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with  McGcorgc  Bundy 







Secretary  of  War  191 1-13 ',  Secretary  of  State  1929-33 
Secretary  of  War  1940-45 


Junior  Fellow,  Society  of  Fellows 
Harvard  University 



Copyright^  /p^7,  /jtytf,  by  Henry  L.  Stimson 

Printed  in  the  United  States  of  America 

All 'nghts  in  this  book  are  reserved. 
No  part  o/  the  book  may  be  reproduced  in  any 
manner  whatsoever  without  written  permission 
except  in  the  case  of  brie]  quotations  embodied 
in  critical  articles  and  reviews.  For  information 
address  Harper  £3"  Brothers 


About  one  fifth  of  the  material  in  this  book  was 
published  serially  under  the  title  of  Time  of  Peril 



M.  W.  S. 


H,  L.  S.  McG.  B. 


Introduction  by  Henry  L.  Stimson  xi 


I    Attorney  for  the  Government  3 

II    With  Roosevelt  and  Taft  18 

i.  Running  for  Governor  2.  Secretary  of  War  3.  The 
Split  of  1912 

III  Responsible  Government  56 

i.  Framing  a  Program  2.  In  Convention  Assembled 
3.  Success,  Failure,  and  Victory  4.  Credo  of  a  Progres- 
sive Conservative 

IV  The  World  Changes  82 

i.  War  Comes  to  America    2.  Colonel  Stimson 

V    As  Private  Citizen  101 

i.  The  League  of  Nations  Fight  2.  At  the  Bar  3.  The 
Peace  of  Tipitapa 

VI    Governor  General  of  the  Philippines  117 

I.  The  Background  2.  A  Happy  Year  3.  Later  Dis- 
appointments and  Some  Hopes 


VII    Constructive  Beginnings  155 

I.  Washington  in  1929  2.  London  in  1930  3,  Latin 
America  in  1931 

VIII    The  Beginnings  of  Disaster  190 

I,  Before  the  Storm  2,  Economic  Crisis  in  Europe 
3.  More  about  "These  Damn  Debts" 

IX    The  Far  Eastern  Crisis  2,20 

i.  A  Japanese  Decision  2.  From  Conciliation  to  Non- 
recognition  3.  Shanghai  4.  The  Borah  Letter  5.  Con- 
clusion and  Retrospect 


X     The  Tragedy  of  Timidity 

i.  Disarmament — A  Surface  Issue  2.  The  Failure  of 

XI     Out  Again  282 

i.  The  Campaign  of  1932     2.  Middleman  after  Election 

XII     Toward  General  War  297 

i.  Citizen  and  Observer  2.  1933-1940— Cast  as  Cas- 


XIII  Call  to  Arms  323 

i.  Back  to  Washington  2.  The  Newcomer  3.  The 
Best  Staff  He  Ever  Had 

XIV  The  First  Year  345 

I.  Men  for  the  New  Army  2.  Supplies  3.  To  Britain 

XV    Valley  of  Doubt  364 

I.  A  Difference  with  the  President  2,  The  Price  of 

XVI     The  War  Begins  382 

i .  Pearl  Harbor     2.  Mission  of  Delay     3.  War  Secretary 

XVII     The  Army  and  Grand  Strategy  41^ 

I .  Pearl  Harbor  to  North  Africa     2.  The  Great  I  >eeision 

XVIII     The  Wartime  Army  449 

i.  Reorganization  2,  "Dipping  Down"  3.  The  Place 
of  Specialists  4.  Student  Soldiers  5.  The  Army  and  the 
Negro  6.  Science  and  New  Weapons 

XIX    The  Effort  for  Total  Mobilization  470 

i.  Military  Manpower  2.  National  Service  3.  Labor 
and  the  War  4.  The  Army  and  War  Production  A  Note 
on  Administration  5.  Public  Relations 

XX    The  Army  and  the  Navy  503 

i,  Stimson  and  the  Admirals  2.  Lessons  of  Antisub- 
marine War  3.  Unification  and  the  Future 

XXI     The  Army  and  the  Grand  Alliance  524 

i.  Stilwell  and  China  2.  France — Defeat,  Darlan,  De 
Gaulle,  and  Deliverance  3.  FDR  and  Military  Govern- 
ment 4.  A  Word  from  Hindsight 

XXII     The  Beginnings  of  Peace  565 

i.  A  Shift  in  Emphasis  2.  The  Morgenthau  Plan 
3.  The  Crime  of  Aggressive  War  4.  Planning  for  Recon- 
struction 5.  A  Strong  America  6.  Bases  and  Big  Powers 
7.  The  Emergent  Russian  Problem 

XXIII  The  Atomic  Bomb  and  the  Surrender  of  Japan  612 

i .  Making  a  Bomb     2.  The  Achievement  of  Surrender 

XXIV  The  Bomb  and  Peace  with  Russia  634 

XXV     The  Last  Month  656 

i .  Judgment  of  the  Army  2.  The  Chief  of  Staff  3.  The 
Commander  in  Chief  4.  The  End 

Afterword  by  Henry  L.  Stimson  671 

A  Note  of  Explanation  and  Acknowledgment 

by  McGeorge  Bundy  673 

Brief  Chronology  of  World  War  1 1  679 

Index  685 


book  contains  an  account  of  the  years  of  my  public 
A  service — my  actions,  motives,  and  estimates  of  results — 
from  my  point  of  view.  The  writing  of  the  book  has  been  the 
work  of  Mr.  McGeorge  Bundy.  Its  style  and  composition  are 
his;  but,  where  he  writes  of  what  I  have  thought  and  felt,  he 
does  so  after  we  have  worked  together  for  eighteen  months  in 
an  earnest  effort  to  make  an  accurate  and  balanced  account.  We 
have  aimed  to  present  not  only  my  past  experience  but  my 
present  opinions  as  clearly  and  as  honestly  as  we  can.  The 
result  is  a  record  which  I  believe  fully  reflects  my  best  judg- 
ment of  what  my  public  life  has  been.  I  am  profoundly  grate- 
ful to  him  for  having  made  possible  this  record  upon  questions 
which  are  vital  to  me  and  on  which  I  have  spent  most  of  my 
active  life. 

This  book  is  intended  to  be  a  "pilot  biography" — to  be 
written  while  my  memory  of  important  events  is  still  alive — in 
order  to  forestall  possible  biographies  written  without  the 
careful  aid  of  my  papers  or  myself.  Unfortunately  I  have  lived 
long  enough  to  know  that  history  is  often  not  what  actually 
happened  but  what  is  recorded  as  such.  While  it  is  as  accurate 
as  Mr.  Bundy  and  I  can  make  it,  we  know  that  even  so  it 
contains  errors  of  fact  and  judgment,  and  accordingly  my 
executors  will  be  directed  to  place  my  diaries  and  other  papers 
in  a  depository  where,  in  due  time,  they  will  be  perfectly 
accessible  to  historians  and  other  students,  in  order  that  such 
errors  may  be  corrected  in  the  cold  light  of  history. 

Inasmuch  as  I  did  not  enter  into  public  office  until  I  was 
over  thirty-eight  years  old  and  kept  no  diaries  of  my  previous 
life,  and  as  the  reader  may  have  some  interest  in  the  sources 
from  which  I  came  and  the  formative  conditions  which 
developed  and  influenced  me  during  my  early  life,  it  has  seemed 
well  that  I  should  add  to  this  introduction  a  few  pages  bearing 
on  those  factors.  It  will  be  necessarily  a  little  longer  and  I 


trust  a  little  more  illuminating  than  a  transcription  of  Who's 
Who  and  will  be  wholly  dependent  upon  my  own  memory. 
When  a  man  reaches  my  age,  there  are — for  better  or  worse — 
few  who  can  either  corroborate  or  contradict  him. 

My  forebears  on  both  sides  of  my  family  were  nearly  all  of 
New  England  stock,  products  of  the  Massachusetts  migration 
during  the  first  half  of  the  seventeenth  century.  They  were 
sturdy,  middle-class  people,  religious,  thrifty,  energetic,  and 
long-lived.  Almost  the  only  non-English  strain  was  composed 
of  the  French  Huguenot  Boudinots,  represented  in  my  great- 
grandmother,  whose  stories  to  me  of  her  childhood  talks  with 
George  Washington,  coupled  with  the  fact  that  I  possessed 
for  some  years  not  only  all  my  grandparents  but  in  addition 
no  less  than  four  great-grandparents,  convinced  me  that  man's 
normal  term  of  life  on  this  earth  was  at  least  a  hundred  years. 
Soon  after  the  Revolution  both  sides  of  the  family  moved  from 
Massachusetts  and  took  up  land  in  New  York,  my  Stimson 
ancestor,  who  had  been  a  soldier  in  the  Continental  Army 
throughout  the  war,  becoming  the  first  settler  of  Windham 
in  the  Catskills,  and  the  ancestors  of  my  mother  settling  on  the 
Delaware  River  near  Delhi.  Both  lines  contained  enough 
clergymen  and  deacons  to  keep  up  fairly  well  the  moral  stand- 
ards of  the  stock.  From  these  agrarian  surroundings  of  up- 
State  New  York  my  father's  father  and  my  mother's  mother, 
years  later,  attracted  by  the  great  city  which  was  developing 
at  the  mouth  of  the  Hudson,  moved  down  to  New  York  to 
try  to  find  a  more  interesting  and  varied  life. 

I  was  born  in  New  York  City  on  September  21,  1867.  Less 
than  nine  years  thereafter  my  young  mother  died  leaving  her 
two  children  motherless,  but  the  doors  of  my  grandparents' 
home  immediately  opened  and  took  us  in  to  the  loving  care  of 
the  large  family  within. 

From  then  until  I  was  thirteen  years  old  I  lived  the  life  of 
a  New  York  City  boy.  During  the  morning  I  attended  New 
York  schools  whose  curricula  were  so  unsatisfactory  that  for 
two  years  my  hard-working  father  took  me  entirely  out  of 
school  and  himself  gave  me  the  only  teaching  of  that  period 
which  stood  by  me  in  later  years.  During  the  afternoon  I  had 
no  outdoor  place  wherein  to  play  except  the  cobbled  streets  of 


the  city.  There  were  then  in  New  York  no  recreation  grounds 
in  or  out  of  the  schools,  and  the  grassy  meadows  of  Central 
Park  were  strictly  foreclosed  against  trespass.  Nor  were  there 
any  rapid  transit  systems  by  which  to  reach  the  outside  country. 

But  at  thirteen  there  came  a  great  change.  My  mental  and 
physical  horizons  broadened  before  me.  My  father,  dissatisfied 
with  the  conditions  in  New  York,  placed  me  in  Phillips 
Academy  at  Andover,  Massachusetts.  I  was  much  younger  than 
any  other  boy  in  the  school  but  the  new  surroundings  were  like 
heaven  to  a  boy  who  craved  escape  from  city  life.  I  have  heard 
the  discipline  of  Phillips  Academy  of  those  old  days  described 
by  an  alumnus  as  "perfect  freedom,  tempered  by  expulsion." 
Of  the  outdoor  life  of  the  students  that  was  a  fair  description. 
There  was  football,  baseball,  skating,  bobsledding,  and  walk- 
ing over  the  hills  and  woodlands  of  northern  Massachusetts 
within  generous  limits,  quite  untrammeled  by  authority. 

But  once  we  entered  the  classroom  it  was  quite  a  different 
matter.  Andover  fitted  a  boy  for  college  and  it  fitted  him 
well.  The  courses  taught  were  fewer  than  they  are  today,  but 
they  were  taught  with  extreme  thoroughness.  And  the  numbers 
of  each  class  being  large,  the  mere  experience  of  standing 
up  before  a  good-sized  audience  and  answering  tough  prob- 
lems before  a  rapid-firing  instructor  was  in  itself  a  stiff  disci- 
pline to  the  average  boy.  To  me  it  opened  a  new  world  of 
effort  and  competition.  It  also  opened  to  me  a  new  world  of 
democracy  and  of  companionship  with  boys  from  all  portions 
of  the  United  States.  At  that  time  Phillips  Academy  contained 
about  two  hundred  fifty  students,  many  coming  from  rural  New 
England,  but  the  remainder  from  nearly  every  other  state  in 
the  Union.  A  large  percentage  of  them  were  working  their 
own  way  in  whole  or  in  part 

School  life  was  extremely  simple  and  inexpensive.  The  cost 
of  tuition  was  sixty  dollars  a  year.  The  school  possessed  no 
dormitories  except  the  Latin  and  English  Commons,  in  which 
nearly  a  third  of  the  students  lived.  These  consisted  of  two 
rows  of  very  cheaply  built  three-story  wooden  houses,  each 
house  containing  rooms  for  six  students.  The  rental  for  each 
student  was  three  dollars  a  term.  There  was  no  sanitation  or 
waier  except  from  a  single  outdoor  pump  from  which  each 


student  carried  his  own  requirements,  and  no  heat  except 
that  which  came  from  each  student's  stove.  And  as  the  two 
rows  of  Commons  stood  on  the  northwestern  slope  of  Andover 
Hill  facing  the  distant  New  Hampshire  hills  on  the  horizon, 
winter  life  there  was  neither  soft  nor  enervating.  Some  of  the 
remaining  students  roomed  in  the  houses  of  instructors  but 
most  of  them  were  in  boardinghouses  approved  by  the  faculty 
in  the  town  of  Andover. 

The  result  for  me  was  association  with  a  very  different  group 
of  young  men  from  those  I  had  met  in  New  York;  they  were 
representatives  of  homes  of  many  varieties  scattered  all  over 
the  United  States — most  of  them  simple  homes — but  in  gen- 
eral the  boys  were  drawn  to  Andover  by  the  desire  to  get  the 
teaching  given  by  a  school  which  was  known  to  have  repre- 
sented for  over  a  hundred  years  the  ideals  of  character  and 
education  believed  in  by  the  founders  of  our  country. 

I  was  too  young  to  appreciate  the  full  advantages  of  these 
new  associations  at  first,  but  as  the  years  of  my  course  rolled  by 
they  were  brought  home  to  rne,  and  I  can  never  be  sufficiently 
grateful  to  the  school  for  the  revolution  it  worked  in  my  own 
character.  In  1905  I  was  elected  a  trustee  of  the  school  and 
subsequently  the  president  of  the  Board  of  Trustees,  a  position 
I  held  until  my  resignation  in  1947.  During  these  forty-two 
years  the  development  of  the  school — its  ideals  as  well  as  its 
buildings  and  surroundings — has  been  one  of  the  greatest 
interests  of  my  life. 

I  was  graduated  from  Andover  in  1883  in  the  Classical 
Department — a  year  too  young  to  be  admitted  to  Yale  and 
spent  the  intervening  year  in  special  tutoring  in  New  York, 
returning  to  Andover  during  the  spring  term  of  1884  and  tak- 
ing up  special  scientific  courses. 

In  the  autumn  of  1884  1  entered  the  class  of  '88  at  Yale, 
That  college  had  not  yet  fully  embarked  upon  its  career  as  a 
university.  The  elective  system  had  only  begun.  The  courses 
of  freshmen  and  sophomores  were  still  prescribed  and  con- 
sisted largely  of  Latin,  Greek,  and  mathematics  taught  rather 
less  effectively  than  at  Andover.  Even  in  junior  and  senior 
years,  with  the  exception  of  "Billy"  Sumner's  economics  and 
some  of  the  courses  in  English  and  history,  there  was  much 


time  lost.  There  was  little  opportunity  for  individual  thinking 
as  distinguished  from  reciting  things  taught.  The  chief  fruits 
of  my  four  years  at  Yale  came  from  the  potent  democratic 
class  spirit  then  existing  on  the  Yale  campus;  and  that  experi- 
ence was  most  important  to  my  life,  both  in  the  character 
developed  and  in  the  friendships  formed. 

When,  after  my  graduation  in  1888,  I  went  for  two  years 
to  the  Harvard  Law  School,  I  found  an  atmosphere  both  inside 
the  halls  of  the  university  and  outside  in  its  yard  which  was 
remarkably  different  from  that  in  New  Haven.  In  the  class- 
rooms of  the  Law  School  there  was  a  spirit  of  independent 
thinking  unlike  anything  I  had  met  before.  It  was  highly  com- 
petitive and  provocative  of  individual  reasoning.  To  one  who 
had  been  accustomed  to  enter  a  classroom  for  the  purpose  of 
reciting  from  memory  lessons  previously  learned  from  higher 
authority,  this  was  a  sharp  surprise.  In  the  Law  School  class- 
rooms one  was  obliged  to  form  his  own  opinions  and  rules  of 
law  by  induction  from  legal  decisions  stated  without  comment 
— and  to  do  it  on  the  floor.  The  whole  atmosphere  was  electric 
with  the  sparks  of  competitive  argument  On  the  other  hand, 
among  the  students  of  the  university  at  large,  there  was  little 
of  the  corporate  class  spirit  and  democratic  energy  which  was 
so  visible  on  the  Yale  campus.  The  Harvard  student,  even  if 
he  was  an  undergraduate,  seemed  to  think  less  in  terms  of  his 
class  and  college  and  more  in  those  of  the  outside  world  than 
his  opposite  number  at  Yale.  There  was  also  broader  and 
more  individualistic  thinking  open  to  him.  For  example,  in 
philosophy  he  might  study  under  three  great  teachers — George 
H.  Palmer,  William  James,  and  Josiah  Royce,  and  these  were 
available  whether  he  was  an  undergraduate  or  in  a  professional 

In  the  retrospect  of  years  it  is  hard,  if  not  impossible,  to 
balance  fairly  the  benefits  to  their  students  accruing  sixty  years 
ago  from  the  corporate  energy  and  democratic  spirit  of  Yale 
as  against  the  courageous  individualism  and  broader  philos- 
ophy of  Harvard.  I  can  only  say  that  I  am  glad  to  have  had 
a  vision  of  both  of  these  great  institutions,  and  further,  that  the 
teachings  of  the  Harvard  Law  School  created  a  greater  revolu- 
tion in  my  power  of  thinking  than  any  teaching  that  I  got  from 


Yale,  while  the  faith  in  mankind  that  I  learned  on  the  campus 
at  New  Haven  was  greater  and  stronger  than  any  such  faith  I 
achieved  at  Harvard. 

In  1885,  at  the  close  of  my  freshman  year  at  Yale,  there 
came  to  me  an  unexpected  and  exceptional  opportunity  to 
become  acquainted  with  another  very  democratic  side  of 
American  life.  My  pioneer  ancestors  had  given  me  a  sound 
body  and  a  love  of  the  outdoors,  together  with  a  deep  yearning 
for  the  loneliness  of  the  wilderness.  By  a  stroke  of  good  fortune 
I  received  in  1885  a  chance  to  visit  a  portion  of  the  western 
United  States  while  it  was  yet  a  frontier,  with  Indians  still 
restive  and  wild  animals  still  abundant.  The  effect  on  my  future 
life  was  profound.  For  over  twenty  years  thereafter  I  spent  a 
portion  of  nearly  every  year  in  the  mountains  and  forests 
of  the  western  Rockies  or  Canada,  exploring,  hunting,  and 
traveling  by  horse,  foot,  or  canoe.  I  came  into  contact  with  the 
simple  rough  men  of  the  wilderness,  both  red  and  white.  I 
witnessed  an  Indian  outbreak  in  1887.  1  came  to  know  the 
Blackfeet  and  hunted  and  climbed  with  their  young  men.  I 
became  a  fair  rifleman  and  canoeman;  was  at  home  in  forest, 
prairie  or  mountains;  could  pack  my  own  horses,  kill  my  own 
game,  make  my  own  camp,  and  cook  my  own  meals.  There 
were  no  guides  in  those  days  in  the  places  I  visited.  With 
George  Bird  Grinnell  I  explored  and  mapped  that  portion 
of  Montana  now  comprising  Glacier  National  Park,  and  one 
of  the  mountains  there  still  bears  my  name*  When  I  married  f 
obtained  a  devoted  helpmeet  who  also  loved  the  wilderness 
and  was  willing  to  endure  its  discomforts  and  hardships,  so 
our  trips  were  continued  until  well  into  middle  life. 

Looking  back,  1  find  it  hard  to  exaggerate  the  effect  of 
these  experiences  on  my  later  life.  That  effect,  physical,  mental, 
and  moral,  was  great.  Not  only  is  self-confidence  gained  by 
such  a  life,  but  ethical  principles  tend  to  become  simpler  by 
the  impact  of  the  wilderness  and  by  contact  with  the  men 
who  live  in  it.  Moral  problems  arc  divested  of  the  confusion 
and  complications  which  civilization  throws  around  them* 
Selfishness  cannot  be  easily  concealed,  and  the  importance  of 
courage,  truthfulness,  and  frankness  is  increased.  To  a  certain 
extent  the  effect  is  similar  to  the  code  of  honor  learned  by  the 
soldier  in  the  field. 


After  the  termination  of  my  work  at  the  Harvard  Law 
School  in  1890,  I  lived  for  three  years  with  my  father  in  New 
York  City.  He  was  the  man  who  of  all  others  had  the  greatest 
influence  upon  the  ideals  and  purposes  of  my  adolescent  life. 
He  had  been  a  soldier  in  the  Civil  War  and  had  well-nigh 
paid  for  that  experience  with  his  life.  At  the  close  of  the  war 
he  became  a  banker  and  broker  in  the  firm  of  his  father  in 
New  York.  He  married  in  1866  and  some  five  years  afterward, 
when  my  mother's  failing  health  drove  the  family  to  Europe, 
he  gave  up  his  business  in  Wall  Street,  to  which  he  had  never 
given  his  heart,  and  began  the  study  of  medicine  in  Zurich  and 
Paris  under  Pasteur,  completing  his  course  and  taking  his 
medical  degree  on  his  return  at  the  Bellevue  Hospital  Medical 
College.  My  mother's  death  was  a  crushing  blow  to  him  and 
he  never  remarried  but  devoted  himself  with  such  effort  to  his 
profession  that  he  advanced  with  unusual  speed  to  eminence 
in  the  branch  of  his  choice — surgery.  He  became  professor 
of  surgery  in  the  New  York  University  Medical  School,  and 
subsequently  in  the  Cornell  Medical  College  from  its  establish- 
ment until  the  date  of  his  death.  He  became  attending  surgeon 
at  the  Presbyterian  and  Bellevue  hospitals  and  finally  at  the 
New  York  Hospital  where  he  remained  for  twenty-two  years 
until  his  retirement,  carrying  in  addition  to  his  service  at  the 
hospital   full    responsibility   for   the   heavy   service   at   their 
emergency  branch,  the  House  of  Relief  in  Hudson  Street.  He 
was  never  particularly  interested   in  the  development  of  a 
lucrative  private  practice.  His  heart  was  in  his  hospital  work. 
I  remember  his  quoting  to  me  some  famous  French  surgeon 
who  had  said  that  he  much  preferred  the  poor  for  his  patients 
for  God  was  their  paymaster.  While  T  was  with  him  he  lived 
frugally,  mainly  on  his  salary  as  a  professor  and  the  income 
from  the  slender  savings  of  his  early  years  as  a  young  banker. 
In  spite  of  the  bent  for  mathematics  and  science  which  under- 
lay his  success  in  his  profession,  throughout  his  life  he  main- 
tained his  love  of  the  classics  and  of  classical  and  European 
history,  remembering  his  Latin  poetry  long  after  my  own 
memory  of  it  was  sadly  dimmed.  The  influence  of  such  a 
character  upon  his  children  was  their  greatest  loadstone  and 
guide.  My  sister  never  married  and  lived  with  him  in  a  won- 
derful companionship  until  his  death.  My  own  three  years  in 


his  house,  in  close  and  affectionate  contact  with  him  while 
working  my  way  in  the  practice  of  the  law  downtown,  was  a 
period  of  dominant  importance  in  the  shaping  of  my  future 

On  July  6,  1893,  I  married  Miss  Mabel  Wellington  White, 
the  daughter  of  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Charles  A.  White  of  New 
Haven,  Connecticut.  That  marriage  has  now  lasted  for  over 
fifty-four  years,  during  which  she  has  ever  been  my  devoted 
companion  and  the  greatest  happiness  in  my  life. 

I  was  admitted  to  the  bar  in  New  York  County  in  June 
1891.  Five  months  afterward  I  became  a  clerk  in  the  office 
of  Root  &  Clarke,  and  on  January  i,  1893,  I  was  admitted  to 
the  firm.  Mr.  Bronson  Winthrop,  who  became  my  lifelong 
partner,  was  admitted  to  the  firm  on  the  same  day.  On  Mr. 
Clarke's  retirement  in  1897  the  firm's  name  became  Root, 
Howard,  Winthrop  &  Stimson,  and  after  Mr.  Root  became 
Secretary  of  War  in  the  Cabinet  of  President  McKinley  the 
firm  name  became  Winthrop  &  Stimson.  It  so  continued  until 
1927  when  it  was  changed  to  Winthrop,  Stimson,  Putnam  & 
Roberts,  the  name  it  holds  today,  when  the  partners  number 
thirteen  and  the  law  clerks  in  its  office  thirty-six  more.  The 
firm  received  its  character  from  its  original  founder,  Elihu 
Root,  who  was  our  exemplar  of  what  a  high-minded  counselor 
should  be,  and  the  memory  of  whose  rectitude,  wisdom,  anil 
constructive  sagacity  ever  remained  before  us.  Winthrop  ami 
I  did  our  utmost  to  carry  on  the  traditions  of  the  firm  which 
Mr.  Root  left.  The  character  of  the  young  men  who  there- 
after came  into  the  firm  has  been  a  source  of  high  satisfac- 
tion in  my  life.  Even  now,  when  I  am  no  longer  an  active 
member  of  the  firm,  I  find  my  association  with  its  members 
one  of  my  greatest  comforts.  During  my  various  excursions 
into  public  life  I  always  felt  that  I  remained  a  lawyer  with  a 
law  firm  waiting  as  a  home  behind  me,  to  which  I  could  return 
on  the  completion  of  my  public  task  and  where  I  would  always 
find  awaiting  me  congenial  friends  and  collaborators  in  the 
law.  This  feeling  gave  me  a  confidence  in  the  performance 
of  my  public  duties  which  was  an  inestimable  encouragement 

The  early  nineties  were  times  of  seething  political  activity 
in  New  York.  I  came  of  a  Republican  family  but  when  Presi- 


dent  Cleveland  raised  the  issue  of  reducing  the  tariff  I  fol- 
lowed him  and  voted  for  him  in  1892.  But  the  government 
of  the  state  and  city  of  New  York,  at  that  time  under  the 
influence  of  Tammany  Hall,  was  of  such  a  character  as  to 
make  the  path  of  a  young  Democrat  difficult  to  follow.  And 
when  Mr.  Cleveland's  own  party  rejected  his  policies;  when 
the  membership  of  the  Court  of  Appeals  was  sullied  by  the 
appointment  by  Governor  Flower  to  that  court  of  Isaac  May- 
nard  in  1893,  as  a  reward  for  political  services;  and  finally 
when  in  1894  the  Lexow  investigation  revealed  a  sink  of  cor- 
ruption in  the  New  York  Police  Department,  I  enrolled  myself 
and  worked  as  a  Republican. 

The  local  Republican  party  in  some  portions  of  New  York 
City  was  not  much  above  Tammany  in  political  righteousness, 
being  more  eager  to  get  sops  of  patronage  by  trading  with 
the  dominant  Democrats  than  to  follow  Republican  principles. 
But  in  the  center  of  Manhattan  were  several  Assembly  districts 
where  the  situation  was  different  and  where  a  Republican 
ticket  with  proper  effort  could  be  elected.  In  one  of  these,  the 
27th  Assembly  District,  I  lived  and  worked  as  a  Republican. 
I  became  the  captain  of  an  election  district  and  learned  what 
constant  effort  was  required  to  persuade  the  ordinary  Amer- 
ican citizen  in  a  great  city  to  take  the  trouble  to  exercise  his 
duties  as  a  voter.  I  eventually  became  the  president  of  my 
Assembly  district  club  and  a  member  of  the  Republican  County 
Committee  of  New  York  County.  We  ardent  young  men  had 
a  hard  fight,  for  the  Republican  organization  of  the  county,  as 
I  have  just  pointed  out,  was  far  below  in  character  that  which 
we  believed  it  should  be.  It  seemed  to  us  of  little  beneficial 
effect  to  laboriously  bring  out  voters  on  election  day  to  vote 
for  a  candidate  who  had  been  selected  and  nominated  by  a 
corrupt  county  leader.  The  primaries  in  those  days  were  very 
imperfect.  They  had  no  basis  in  law  but  were  created  simply 
by  rules  of  the  Republican  organization.  We  saw  ourselves 
habitually  outvoted  at  conventions  by  the  fraudulent  use  of 
this  defective  machinery.  So  finally  \ve  staged  a  revolt  and 
when  in  1897  we  were  thus  outvoted  in  a  convention  in 
which  we  believed  we  really  held  the  majority  of  votes,  we 
retired  from  the  room,  nominated  two  well-qualified  gentle- 


men  as  independent  candidates  for  membership  in  the  state 
Assembly  and  in  the  city  Board  of  Aldermen,  and  successfully 
carried  that  ticket  to  victory  at  the  subsequent  election  over 
the  candidates  of  both  the  Republican  machine  and  the  Demo- 
cratic party.  By  that  demonstration  of  power  we  brought  the 
Republican  county  machine  to  its  knees  and  the  following 
winter  a  primary  election  law,  drawn  by  ourselves,  was  by  the 
force  of  public  opinion  carried  through  the  legislature.  That 
law  put  an  end  to  the  flagrant  methods  of  the  preceding  years 
and  I  believe  has  been  in  effect  ever  since,  governing  the 
conduct  of  primaries  and  party  elections  in  a  way  which  makes 
it  more  possible  than  before  for  honest  voters,  if  they  are 
willing  to  work  hard  enough,  to  succeed  in  preventing  machine 
control.  By  those  early  years  of  hard  political  work  T  gained 
a  foothold  in  my  knowledge  of  the  elements  of  American 
citizenship.  I  could  talk  the  language  of  the  trade  and  meet 
the  professionals  in  politics  on  a  fair  basis. 

It  was  during  these  years  that  I  met  Theodore  Roosevelt, 
who  had  been  a  notable  and  picturesque  figure  in  New  York 
public  life  ever  since  the  early  eighties.  His  vigorous  efforts 
for  a  cleanup  in  our  local  political  life  had  already  made  him 
a  marked  leader  among  all  the  young  men  who,  like  myself, 
had  been  similarly  interested.  Our  friendship,  which  began 
in  1894,  lasted  until  his  death  in  1919. 

In  1894  came  the  Spanish  war;  it  caught  me  napping.  Until 
then  the  United  States  had  passed  through  a  period  of  pro- 
found peace  ever  since  the  end  of  the  Civil  War.  Not  only 
had  we  been  free  from  strife  ourselves,  barring  occasional 
small  affrays  with  Indians  on  our  western  frontier,  but  during 
that  time  there  had  been  no  wars  in  the  outside  world  of  enough 
importance  to  attract  much  popular  attention.  The  century 
was  apparently  closing  with  a  growing  extension  of  democ- 
racy, freedom,  and  peace  throughout  the  world,  I  can  remem- 
ber that  that  was  my  feeling.  The  thought  of  preparing  oneself 
for  possible  military  service  hardly  entered  my  head.  So  in 
April,  1898,  when  the  United  States  declared  war  upon  Spain, 
I  found  myself  over  thirty  years  of  age  and  entirely  untrained 
and  unprepared  for  military  service.  I  enlisted  in  Squadron  A 
of  the  National  Guard,  one  of  the  troops  of  which  participated 
in  the  Puerto  Rican  campaign.  My  own  troop  was  not  selected 


and  I  was  relegated  to  the  task  of  training  myself  for  a  possible 
spread  of  the  war  or  the  coming  of  some  new  war,  a  duty 
which  until  then  I  had  wholly  failed  to  recognize.  The  Spanish 
war  was  terminated  by  armistice  in  August  of  the  same  year. 
I  remained  in  the  squadron  for  nine  years,  rising  from  a 
private  to  a  first  lieutenant.  It  was  a  fine  organization.  It  took 
its  work  seriously  and,  there  being  no  state  police  in  New 
York  in  those  days,  participated  in  not  infrequent  field  service 
including  the  maneuvers  at  Manassas  with  the  Regular  Army 
in  1904.  The  main  result,  however,  was  that  my  attention  was 
turned  to  possibilities  and  duties  to  which  my  mind  had  before 
been  closed. 

My  close  friendship  with  Mr.  Root  also  brought  me  near 
to  the  Army  and  the  War  Department  I  followed  with  great 
interest  his  work  in  reorganizing  our  military  establishment, 
creating  for  the  first  time  a  General  Staff  and  War  College, 
and  laying  the  foundation  for  the  government  of  the  Philip- 
pine Islands.  In  this  way  I  was  unconsciously  building  up  a 
background  of  preparation  for  opportunities  which  many 
years  later  unexpectedly  came  my  way  in  1911,  1917,  1928, 
and  1940. 

Despite  these  various  activities,  my  main  occupation  during 
these  early  years  of  my  life  was  as  a  young  and  active  lawyer 
in  New  York  City.  The  firm  of  which  I  was  a  member  had  a 
wide  and  varied  practice.  Mr,  Root  being  a  prominent  advo- 
cate and  trial  lawyer,  my  attention  had  been  drawn  early  in 
that  direction  when  I  acted  as  his  assistant  in  cases  of  impor- 
tance. Even  after  he  left  us,  my  interest  in  the  art  and  duties 
of  advocacy  still  remained.  I  became  active  in  the  Association 
of  the  Bar  of  the  City  of  New  York  and  became  familiar  with 
its  historic  traditions  of  public  service.  Through  many  channels 
I  came  to  learn  and  understand  the  noble  history  of  the  pro- 
fession of  the  law.  I  came  to  realize  that  without  a  bar  trained 
in  the  traditions  of  courage  and  loyalty  our  constitutional 
theories  of  individual  liberty  would  cease  to  be  a  living  reality. 
I  learned  of  the  experience  of  those  many  countries  possessing 
constitutions  and  bills  of  rights  similar  to  our  own,  whose 
citizens  had  nevertheless  lost  their  liberties  because  they  did 
not  possess  a  bar  with  sufficient  courage  and  independence  to 
establish  those  rights  by  a  brave  assertion  of  the  writs  of 


habeas  corpus  and  certiorari.  So  I  came  to  feel  that  the  Amer- 
ican lawyer  should  regard  himself  as  a  potential  officer  of  his 
government  and  a  defender  of  its  laws  and  constitution,  I  felt 
that  if  the  time  should  ever  come  when  this  tradition  had  faded 
out  and  the  members  of  the  bar  had  become  merely  the  servants 
of  business,  the  future  of  our  liberties  would  be  gloomy  indeed. 

I  became  familiar  also  with  the  less  direct  ways  in  which 
the  practice  of  the  law  is  conducive  to  good  citizenship  and 
the  lawyer  is  a  stabilizing  force  in  the  body  politic.  I  came  to 
realize  how  important  was  his  trained  recognition  that  there 
are  always  two  sides  to  a  question  and  his  appreciation  of  the 
importance  of  a  fair  hearing  in  every  controversy.  T  came  to 
realize  the  importance  played  in  a  democracy  by  persuasion 
as  distinguished  from  force  or  threats  and  to  recognize  the 
importance  of  the  lawyer  as  a  trained  advocate  of  persuasion. 

For  ten  years  after  our  marriage  my  wife  and  I  lived  in 
rented  homes  in  the  city,  varying  in  size  and  location  accord- 
ing to  our  means.  In  1903  we  established  a  home  in  the  country. 
Although  my  profession  made  it  necessary  for  me  to  spend  most 
of  my  time  in  New  York  City,  both  she  and  I  were  at  heart 
lovers  of  the  country  and  desired  a  place  where  we  could  at 
least  spend  our  week  ends  and  which,  as  we  grew  older,  might 
become  more  and  more  our  real  domicile.  The  spot  we  selected, 
in  West  Hills  of  the  Township  of  Huntington,  lies  on  the  sum- 
mit of  the  central  ridge  of  Long  Island  and  affords  glimpses 
of  the  sound  on  the  north  and  the  distant  ocean  on  the  south. 
From  this  fact  we  coined  the  name  "Highhold."  This  has  been 
our  home  for  forty-four  years  and  is  the  place  to  which  we 
have  retired  now  that  our  work  in  both  New  York  and  Wash- 
ington has  ended. 

When  we  purchased  our  home  it  was  a  farm  in  a  purely 
farming  country,  six  miles  away  from  Huntington,  the  nearest 
village.  During  the  passing  years  the  surrounding  countryside 
has  gradually  filled  up  with  homeseekers  from  New  York.  But 
our  modest  farmland  and  woods  have  remained  the  same;  and 
even  today  I  can  still  look  from  my  piazza  to  the  distant  rim 
of  the  ocean  over  a  stretch  of  countryside  which,  to  all  appear- 
ances, is  the  same  as  it  was  forty  years  ago. 




Attorney  for  the  Government 

/HpHEODORE  ROOSEVELT,  at  the  end  of  1905,  was  in 
JL  full  course.  A  year  before,  he  had  been  triumphantly 
elected  President  in  his  own  right;  he  was  now  preparing  for 
a  good  fight  with  the  Fifty-ninth  Congress  on  railroad  rates, 
pure  food,  and  other  issues  of  his  Square  Deal.  His  popularity 
was  enormous ;  his  joyous  self-confidence  was  at  its  peak.  In 
kinetic  response  to  his  personal  preaching  of  a  new  morality, 
the  country  was  alive  to  the  meaning  of  righteous  government 
as  it  had  not  been  for  generations. 

The  President  himself  carried  the  banner  for  new  reforms. 
Meanwhile  he  faced  a  problem  in  consolidating  gains  already 
made.  His  first  administration  had  seen  two  legal  events  that 
opened  the  door  to  more  aggressive  law  enforcement:  the 
Supreme  Court's  antitrust  decision  in  the  Northern  Securities 
case,  and  the  passage  of  the  Elkins  Act  of  1903  against  railroad 
rebates.  To  get  the  full  value  of  these  new  opportunities,  the 
President  needed  lawyers;  he  had  a  vigorous  and  effective 
Attorney  General  in  W.  H.  Moody,  but  among  the  law  officers 
in  the  lower  echelons  of  the  federal  Government  there  was 
room  for  improvement.  In  over  two  years  no  important  con- 
viction had  been  obtained  under  the  Elkins  Act,  and  it  was 
common  knowledge  that  rebates  continued.  T.R.  wanted  the 
legal  help  of  some  of  "my  type  of  men." 

In  December,  1905,  Stimson  was  invited  to  Washington  to 
see  the  President  His  principal  previous  connection  with 
Theodore  Roosevelt  had  been  as  a  fellow  member  of  the  Boone 
&  Crockett  Club  of  New  York,  and  he  traveled  to  the  capital 
with  his  mind  turned  to  problems  of  bear  hunting.  Calling 


on  his  former  senior  partner,  Secretary  of  State  Root,  he 
learned  what  the  President  wanted,  and  a  few  minutes  later, 
sitting  in  the  White  House,  he  was  listening  to  "the  most  com- 
manding natural  leader"  he  ever  knew.  The  President  had  a 
job  for  him:  would  he  serve  as  United  States  Attorney  for  the 
Southern  District  of  New  York? 

The  call  of  Theodore  Roosevelt  was  irresistible,  and  Stim- 
son  at  once  accepted.  The  President  said  he  would  discuss  the 
matter  with  the  patronage  boss  of  New  York,  Senator  Tom 
Platt,  and  see  if  it  could  be  arranged.  There  was  plenty  of  time ; 
the  term  of  the  present  incumbent  had  still  six  weeks  to  run. 

On  January  n,  1906,  having  heard  nothing  further  from 
the  White  House,  Stimson  read  in  the  morning  papers  that 
his  appointment  had  been  announced  the  day  before  by  the 
President.  Apparently  Senator  Platt  had  given  his  consent, 
for  the  appointment  was  readily  confirmed,  and  on  February  i 
Stimson  took  office.  It  was  his  first  public  office;  it  came  un- 
sought, as  did  every  one  of  his  later  appointments.  And  in  1947 
it  was  clear  to  him  that  this  first  decision  was  the  one  from 
which  all  his  later  opportunities  developed.  On  February  i, 
1906,  he  crossed  forever  the  river  that  separates  private  citizens 
from  public  men. 

The  law  of  the  United  States — the  federal  law — is  applied 
and  interpreted  by  a  hierarchy  of  courts  ranging  from  the 
Supreme  Court  in  Washington  through  the  Circuit  Courts 
of  Appeals  to  the  District  Courts.  But  the  law  is  enforced  by 
prosecutors ;  no  judge,  however  upright,  can  personally  appre- 
hend a  lawbreaker.  When  Stimson  became  United  States 
Attorney  for  the  Southern  District  of  New  York,  he  became  the 
chief  law-enforcement  officer  of  the  American  national  Gov- 
ernment in  the  most  populous  and  important  district  in  the 
country.  At  any  time  such  office  presents  a  challenge  to  the 
honor  and  ability  of  a  member  of  the  bar.  And  it  happened 
that  when  Stimson  took  office  there  were  two  circumstances 
which  gave  the  challenge  special  point. 

One  was  the  nature  of  the  laws  now  requiring  enforcement. 
In  older  and  simpler  times  the  function  of  the  United  States 
Attorney  had  been  one  that  a  good  lawyer  could  faithfully 
execute  with  half  his  time  and  almost  no  assistants.  It  had  been 


so  executed,  with  distinction,  by  Elihu  Root  less  than  a  genera- 
tion before — it  was  the  first  of  many  parallels  between  Mr. 
Root  and  his  junior  partner  that  both  were  thirty-eight  when 
they  assumed  this  office.  But  now,  in  1906,  the  United  States 
was  asserting  its  latent  strength;  its  lawyers  were  expected 
to  do  successful  battle  with  the  corporate  giants  of  the  time. 
No  longer  would  it  be  the  .major  business  of  the  United  States 
Attorney  to  pursue  petty  smugglers  and  violators  of  the  postal 

And  it  happened  that  in  the  years  since  Mr.  Root's  incum- 
bency the  office  of  the  federal  attorney  had  become  less  and 
less  competent  to  deal  with  cases  of  such  magnitude.  Until 
just  before  Stimson's  appointment  the  law  provided  that  the 
United  States  Attorney  might  keep  as  his  reward  a  generous 
proportion  of  the  moneys  recovered  in  customs  cases  by  his 
endeavors,  so  that  in  Southern  New  York  the  job  was  reported 
to  be  worth  $100,000  a  year.  But  the  incumbents,  though  gen- 
erally honorable  men,  had  hardly  been  of  the  stature  to  com- 
mand any  such  sum  in  private  practice,  and  it  had  become  the 
habit  of  the  Attorney  General  to  retain  private  lawyers  when- 
ever he  had  a  case  of  unusual  importance  or  difficulty,  to  press 
in  the  lower  courts;  his  official  subordinates  were  considered 
no  match  for  the  eminent  counsel  who  acted  for  the  defense  in 
major  cases. 

Stimson  was  hired  (at  $10,000  a  year)  to  do  two  things — 
first,  to  make  war  on  violators  of  the  federal  law,  especially 
on  the  new  front  of  great  corporate  transgression,  and  second, 
to  reorganize  his  office  in  such  fashion  that  he  himself,  with 
his  own  official  assistants,  would  try  all  important  cases.  Al- 
though he  began  hrs  court  battles  before  his  reorganization  of 
the  office  was  complete,  his  final  successes  at  the  bar  depended 
in  so  great  a  degree  upon  the  men  he  gathered  around  him  that 
we  shall  do  well  to  look  first  at  this  question  of  building  a  team. 

When  Stimson  took  office,  he  had  eight  assistants  at  an 
aggregate  salary  of  $22,000  a  year.  This  total  was  less  than 
what  he  himself  had  earned  in  1905  as  a  successful  but  not 
particularly  outstanding  young  lawyer.  It  was  therefore  not 
surprising  to  him  to  find  that,  with  two  or  three  exceptions, 
the  men  in  his  new  office  were  not  of  very  high  caliber — com- 


potent  and  ambitious  lawyers  were  not  attracted  by  the  Govern- 
ment's salary  scale. 

It  was  not  easy  at  first  to  see  what  could  be  done  about  it. 
It  might  be  possible  to  increase  appropriations  somewhat  (and 
an  increase  of  50  per  cent  was  in  the  end  obtained),  but  even 
a  double  rate  would  hardly  attract  established  lawyers  earn- 
ing five  or  ten  times  as  much  as  the  best  offer  Stimson  could 
make.  Nor  was  it  likely  that  among  New  York's  practicing 
attorneys  there  was  much  unrecognized  and  underpaid  talent 
which  could  be  attracted  by  a  government  job — at  the  New 
York  bar  real  ability  was  quickly  recognized  and  rewarded. 

Or  was  it?  Granted  that  few  good  men  over  thirty-five 
were  earning  less  than  $10,000,  what  about  the  men  even 
younger?  Stimson's  mind  turned  back  to  his  own  years  as  a 
junior — he  remembered  the  time  in  1893  when  a  guaranteed 
salary  of  $2,000  had  permitted  him,  after  five  years  of  waiting, 
to  marry  and  support  his  wife.  There  were  underpaid  lawyers 
of  high  quality  in  New  York,  and  he  knew  where  to  find  them ; 
they  were  the  men  fresh  out  of  law  school  who  worked  as 
juniors  in  the  big  downtown  offices.  They  knew  little  about 
prosecution,  it  was  true,  but  they  knew  about  as  much  as  he 
did  himself — and  as  much  as  most  lawyers  in  private  practice 
would  know;  perhaps  indeed  they  would  know  more,  for  the 
things  they  had  learned  about  criminal  law  in  classrooms  would 
not  have  faded  from  their  minds  as  from  those  of  their  seniors. 
He  would  raid  the  law  firms — better  yet,  he  would  canvass  the 
law  schools  and  offer  his  jobs  to  men  whose  brains  were  guar- 
anteed by  their  deans.  Perhaps  with  these  bright  young  men 
he  could  stretch  his  funds  a  long  way;  perhaps  they  would 
feel,  as  he  did,  the  challenge  of  the  job  and  take  its  opportuni- 
ties in  partial  payment. 

And  that  was  the  way  it  turned  out,  although  it  took  months 
to  find  and  win  the  men  he  wanted.  He  wrote  to  the  law 
school  deans;  he  talked  to  his  contemporaries  to  find  out  if 
they  knew  and  would  recommend  to  him  particularly  likely 
youngsters;  he  added  his  own  zealous  arguments  to  the  gen- 
eral appeal  of  a  chance  to  fight  under  the  banner  of  T.R. 
and  reform.  When  he  got  through  he  had  a  team  of  assistants 
tender  in  years  but  equal  in  their  combined  talents  to  any 


office  anywhere,  public  or  private.  In  later  years  Stimson 
always  claimed  for  himself  the  ability  to  judge  and  choose 
men,  and  he  was  prepared  to  rest  this  claim  with  a  recapitula- 
tion of  the  names  of  his  chief  assistants  when  he  was  United 
States  Attorney  for  the  Southern  District.  Felix  Frankfurter 
~went  on  to  the  United  States  Supreme  Court  and  Thomas  D. 
Thacher  to  the  highest  court  of  New  York  State;  Winfred 
Denison's  brilliant  career  was  tragically  cut  short;  all  of  the 
others  became  leaders  in  private  practice,  their  names  perhaps 
not  recognized  by  the  general  public  but  known  and  honored 
by  the  bar.1  And  their  youth  was  for  Stimson  an  advantage 
and  a  pleasure.  They  were  able,  eager,  and  loyal,  and  they 
were  happy  to  be  overworked.  They  would  work  in  the  eve- 
nings through  the  week,  and  come  down  to  Highhold  for 
the  week  end  in  relentless  zest  for  the  labor  of  winning  cases 
for  the  United,  States.  They  were  gay,  too,  and  in  1947  Stim- 
son remembered  with  delight  the  day  when  he  had  seen  a 
future  Supreme  Court  Justice  in  a  losing  foot  race  around 
the  fields  of  Highhold  against  a  future  judge  in  the  New 
York  Court  of  Appeals. 

In  later  years,  when  the  success  of  his  term  as  United 
States  Attorney  was  laid  at  his  door  in  public  and  private 
tributes,  Stimson  always  felt  that  he  could  properly  accept 
the  credit  for  choosing  these  young  men,  but  he  always  added 
that  the  direct  honor  for  cases  won  was  mainly  theirs:  "For 
the  first  few  months  of  my  administration  I  was  busy  explain- 
ing the  responsibilities,  the  duties,  and  high  function  of  that 
office  to  all  of  the  young  men  of  the  City  of  New  York  who 
would  listen  to  me.  The  response  that  I  then  found  .  .  .  was 
one  of  the  most  inspiring  lessons  in  public  spirit  and  optimism 
that  I  have  had  the  happiness  to  experience;  and  .  .  .  [It  is 
the]  devoted  work  of  those  men  and  that  spirit  brought  with 
the  office  to  which  is  due  whatever  credit  and  whatever  success 
it  has  attained."2 

1  On  a  loving  cup  presented  to  Stimson  by  his  staff  -when  he  retired  in  1909-  the  fol- 
lowing names  appear:  D.  Frank  Lloyd,  Henry  A.  Wise,  J.  Osgood  Nichols,  Winfred 
T.  Denison,  Goldthwaite  H.  Dorr,  Felix  Frankfurter,  Hugh  Govern,  Jr.,  Francis  W. 
Bird,  Emory  R.  Buckner,  William  S.  Ball,  John  W.  H.  Grim,  Thomas  D.  Thacher, 
Daniel  D.  Walton,  Harold  S.  Deming,  Robert  P.  Stephenson,  Wolcott  H.  Pitkin,  Jr. 

2  Speech  as  guest  of  honor  at  a  testimonial  dinner  of  the  New  York  bar,  May  20, 


The  first  great  group  of  cases  which  Stimson  brought  to 
trial  were  prosecutions  for  the  offense  of  rebating.  The  rail- 
road rebate  was  an  extraordinary  device ;  it  had  played  a  major 
role  in  the  development  of  gigantic  near  monopolies.  The  idea 
was  simple:  a  large  corporation  shipping  its  goods  by  rail 
could  use  its  bargaining  power  as  a  major  customer  to  force 
reimbursement  of  a  part  of  the  legal  shipping  rates  charged  by 
the  railroad,  thus  obtaining  an  advantage  over  competitors. 
This  reimbursement  was  called  a  rebate.  In  particularly  fla- 
grant cases  like  that  of  the  Standard  Oil  Company,  the  big 
shipper  received  in  addition  a  rebate  on  the  shipping  rates  paid 
by  his  competitors. 

Rebates  had  been  criminal  for  many  years -before  1903,  but 
the  Elkins  Act  of  that  year  was  the  first  to  give  effective 
weapons  to  Government  prosecutors.  Under  the  Elkins  Act, 
the  size  of  permissible  fines  was  greatly  increased,  and  the 
shipper  as  well  as  the  railroad  could  be  prosecuted.  The  power 
to  impose  large  fines  on  the  offending  corporation  was  most 
important,  for  juries  were  much  more  willing  to  penalize 
the  profiting  corporations  than  to  put  unhappy  corporation 
underlings  in  jail  while  the  corporate  profiteers  went  un- 
touched. But  before  February,  1906,  there  had  been  no  suc- 
cessful prosecution  for  rebating. 

The  first  evidence  for  Stimson's  own  prosecutions  came  from 
the  offices  of  William  Randolph  Hearst  late  in  1905 ;  Hearst's 
peculiar  compound  of  policies  at  this  time  included  a  lively 
opposition  to  the  "Interests,"  and  his  reporters  were  good 
sleuths.  The  new  United  States  Attorney  followed  up  Hearst's 
leads  with  energy ;  within  five  months  he  had  brought  seven 
indictments,  and  in  the  following  year  his  office  brought  four- 
teen more.  By  the  time  he  made  his  first  personal  report  to 
the  Attorney  General,  in  July,  1907,  a  total  of  $362,000  had 
been  assessed  in  fines  for  rebating,  and  it  had  become  cus- 
tomary for  defendants  to  plead  guilty  in  order  to  avoid  the 
painful  publicity  of  trial  and  certain  conviction. 

Stimson's  most  important  rebating  prosecutions  were  against 
the  American  Sugar  Refining  Company  and  railroads  from 
which  it  had  received  rebates.  These  cases  were  a  remarkable 
illustration  to  him  of  the  problems  involved  in  prosecuting 


big  corporations.  In  the  first  place,  the  volume  and  complexity 
of  the  evidence  was  almost  overwhelming;  it  was  necessary  to 
unravel  the  freight  transactions  in  which  the  rebate  was  art- 
fully embedded,  and  then  to  reconstruct  what  actually  hap- 
pened in  a  manner  clear  and  convincing  to  the  jury.  This  could 
be  done  with  assurance  only  after  such  an  amount  of  study 
that  Stimson  and  his  assistants  in  the  end  were  more  familiar 
with  these  transactions  than  the  officers  of  the  offending  cor- 

These  cases  also  demonstrated  with  remarkable  clarity  both 
the  stubbornness  and  the  eventual  weakness  of  the  corporate 
wrongdoer.  The  New  York  Central  Railroad  and  the  Ameri- 
can Sugar  Refining  Company  had  been  partners  in  rebating,  as 
Stimson  proved  in  three  successive  jury  trials.  The  Railroad 
carried  its  case  on  through  the  Supreme  Court,  as  if  persuaded 
that  such  unwonted  misfortune  in  the  federal  courts  must  be 
an  accident.  The  Sugar  Company,  on  the  other  hand,  fought 
only  one  case  and  then  surrendered  without  a  trial  on  the  re- 
maining indictments.  The  eminent  lawyer  who  was  counsel 
for  the  company  came  to  Stimson's  office  bearing  a  white  flag: 
'Damn  it,  Stimson,  we  think  you're  wrong  on  the  law  and 
wrong  on  the  facts,  but  we  can't  stand  the  publicity.'  Yet  this 
same  lawyer  had  no  complaint  whatever  against  the  fairness 
and  sobriety  of  the  Government's  prosecutions.  It  was  not 
publicity  in  itself  that  he  feared;  it  was  public  proof  of  guilt. 

The  victory  thus  won  showed  the  wisdom  of  Elihu  Root's 
advice  to  Stimson  after  his  first  successful  trial.  The  way  to 
stop  rebating  for  good,  Root  said,  was  to  keep  on  hitting  until 
the  railroads  and  the  shippers  understood  that  they  could  and 
would  be  punished  in  the  courts  for  their  offenses.  Stimson's 
successful  prosecutions,  followed  by  others  in  other  federal 
districts,  put  a  stop  to  rebating  as  a  major  corporate  practice 
in  a  very  few  years.  In  one  of  the  later  prosecutions  a  fine 
of  fantastic  size  was  imposed — $29,000,000  assessed  by  Kene- 
saw  Mountain  Landis  in  Chicago  against  the  Standard  Oil 
Company.  Unlike  the  more  modest  fines  imposed  by  the 
judges  before  whom  Stimson  argued,  this  great  judgment  was 
promptly  reversed  by  a  higher  court. 

From  the  standpoint  of  their  broad  effect  on  the  conduct  of 


business,  the  rebating  cases  were  probably  the  most  important 
in  Stimson's  service  as  United  States  Attorney.  But  there  were 
two  other  main  undertakings  which  were  even  more  demand- 
ing in  their  preparation  and  presentation,  both  of  them  striking 
examples  of  the  kind  of  battle  for  simple  morality  in  high 
places  which  was  typical  of  so  much  of  Theodore  Roosevelt's 

One  was  the  prosecution  of  Charles  W.  Morse  for  misusing 
the  funds  of  the  Bank  of  North  America.  Morse's  activities 
were  a  major  element  in  bringing  on  the  financial  panic  of 
1907,  and  he  was  an  object  of  public  wrath  long  before  any 
indictment  was  found.  Morse  had  concealed  his  misapplica- 
tion of  bank  funds  by  fictitious  loans  to  dummies  of  no  respon- 
sibility;  the  difficulty  was  to  show  that  what  was  to  all  appear- 
ances a  real  loan  was  in  fact  a  misapplication  of  the  funds  of 
the  bank  to  a  speculation  by  Morse  himself  and  that  the  form 
of  a  loan  had  been  adopted  to  deceive  the  bank  examiners. 
Nor  was  this  case  made  easier  by  the  fact  that  Morse,  the 
primary  culprit,  was  not  himself  the  president  of  the  bank. 
The  case  was  more  than  a  year  in  preparation,  and  Stimson 
made  every  effort  to  exclude  from  the  trial  the  sort  of  atmos- 
phere of  indiscriminate  vengeance  which  malefactors  of  great 
wealth  so  easily  arouse  against  themselves.  Morse  was  duly 
convicted  and  sentenced  to  fifteen  years  in  the  penitentiary; 
but  it  was  typical  of  the  plausible  deceitfulness  of  the  man 
that  three  years  later  he  was  pardoned  on  the  ground  of  ill 
health — and  lived  on  long  enough  to  have  a  further  brush  with 
the  law. 

The  second  big  case — or  rather  set  of  cases — in  the  later 
years  was  one  to  which  Stimson  always  referred  as  "The  Case 
of  the  Seventeen  Holes."  This  was  a  case  of  customs  fraud 
on  a  grand  scale,  and  it  eventually  resulted  in  a  recovery  by  the 
Government  of  about  $3,500,000  in  back  duties.  The  principal 
defendant  was,  once  again,  the  American  Sugar  Refining  Com- 
pany, this  time  accompanied  by  other  sugar  refiners. 

The  Case  of  the  Seventeen  Holes  was  an  astonishing  illus- 
tration of  the  level  to  which  business  ethics  had  fallen  in  this 
period.  As  the  defense  counsel  summed  it  up,  "The  charge  is 
that  over  a  series  of  years  the  American  Sugar  Refining  Com- 


pany  of  New  York  has  been  systematically,  in  season  and  out 
of  season,  from  1901  down  until  the  close  of  1907,  engaged 
in  stealing  from  the  United  States."3  This  had  been  done  by 
fraudulent  weighing  of  sugar  for  the  determination  of  custom 
duties,  and  the  method  of  the  fraud  gave  the  case  its  name.  In 
seventeen  large  Government  scales,  through  seventeen  small 
holes,  the  company's  checkers  had  "systematically"  and  fur- 
tively introduced  wires  by  which  they  distorted  the  weights 
recorded  by  these  scales ;  the  result  was  that  the  company,  "in 
season  and  out  of  season,"  had  paid  duty  on  less  sugar  than  it 
actually  imported. 

Stimson  spent  the  better  part  of  two  years  of  his  life  on  these 
customs  cases.  The  system  of  the  seventeen  holes  was  uncovered 
by  a  federal  agent  named  Richard  Parr  at  the  end  of  1907,  but 
the  first  good  jury  evidence  of  fraud  was  obtained  only  after  an 
exhaustive  study  of  the  company's  records  demonstrated  a 
marked  and  continuing  difference  between  the  amount  of  sugar 
sold  by  the  company  and  the  amount  on  which  it  paid  duty. 
After  a  year  of  preparation  the  first  case,  a  civil  suit,  was 
started  for  recovery  of  duty  on  a  small  number  of  specified 
bales  of  sugar.  Stimson's  object  here  was  simply  to  fix  the  fact 
of  fraud  by  the  corporation,  and  the  verdict  for  the  Govern- 
ment was  wholly  effective  to  this  end ;  only  $134,000  was  recov- 
ered by  this  verdict,  but  the  evidence  of  corrupt  conspiracy  was 
so  damning  that  rather  than  face  further  trial,  the  American 
Sugar  Refining  Company  promptly  paid  $2,000,000  in  back 
duties,  and  over  $1,300,000  more  was  paid  by  other  guilty 

Criminal  prosecution  of  the  guilty  individuals  was  more 
difficult.  The  evidence  available  was  sufficient  for  the  indict- 
ment and  conviction  of  the  men  on  the  docks,  the  tools  of 
the  company,  and  a  number  of  these  men  were  duly  tried 
and  sentenced,  as  were  a  number  of  conniving  Government 
employees.  It  was  much  harder  to  bring  home  the  crime  to  the 
company's  senior  officers.  But  as  Stimson  reported  to  the 
Attorney  General,  "Our  evidence  indicates  that  this  company 
down  to  minute  details,  was  virtually  run  by  one  man,"  the 
president;  the  president  died  only  two  weeks  after  Parr's  first 

8  Quoted  in  the  Outlook,  May  i,  1909. 


discovery  of  fraud  and  so  escaped  prosecution,  but  the  next 
senior  officer  connected  with  the  operation,  the  secretary- 
treasurer  of  the  company,  was  duly  convicted. 

Stimson  resigned  ,as  United  States  Attorney  in  April,  1909, 
but  he  continued  to  act  as  a  special  assistant  to  the  Attorney 
General  in  the  customs  cases  for  more  than  a  year  thereafter. 
The  sum  of  what  he  and  his  assistants  learned  was  set  forth 
in  a  report  which  shows  how  badly  the  clean  breezes  set  loose 
by  Theodore  Roosevelt  had  been  needed — and  it  should  be 
noted  that  the  frauds  of  the  customs-house  were  not  a  subject 
of  notorious  exposes  when  Stimson  entered  office;  in  his  first 
annual  report  he  had  treated  customs  cases  as  routine  affairs 
deserving  little  attention.  By  1910  both  he  and  the  public  had 
learned  better : 

"The  foregoing  investigation  had  made  clear  to  me  the  fol- 
lowing points: 

"First:  That  in  the  administration  of  the  Customs  service 
in  this  Port,  there  has  been  widespread  fraud  and  corruption 
among  both  the  importers  and  the  Customs  officers. 

"Second:  That  this  is  not  the  result  of  the  malfeasance  of 
any  one  officer  or  administration,  but  is  the  result  of  a  lax 
system  during  the  twenty  years  covered  by  our  investigation, 
and  probably  going  back  very  much  further,  in  which  not 
only  the  administrative  officers,  but  the  laws,  regulations  and 
traditions  of  the  service  were  at  fault. 

"Third:  That  in  spite  of  the  abundant  resources  which 
have  been  placed  at  pur  disposal,  and  of  our  own  unceasing 
efforts  for  a  year,  it  seems  likely  that  a  comparatively  small 
number  of  the  persons  legally  or  morally  guilty  can  be  visited 
with  suitable  punishment  through  the  process  of  the  criminal 
law.  ... 

"We  have  found  that  local  politics  have  continually  had  a 
debasing  effect  upon  the  Customs  service ;  that  the  large  sugar 
refiners  have  been  able  to  exert  great  political  influence  upon 
Customs  officers;  that  some  of  the  local  party  organizations 
have  been  able  to  exercise  a  strong  influence  upon  the  course 
of  investigations,  and  even  of  prosecutions,  through  their 
power  over  investigators  and  witnesses.  We  have  found 
instances  of  Government  agents  reporting,  many  years  ago, 


abuses  which  were  left  unpunished  until  our  prosecutions. 
Years  ago,  the  American  Sugar  Refining  Company  was  caught 
using  light  trucks  on  its  scales  in  the  weighing  of  its  sugar. 
Later,  its  employees  were  found  tampering  with  the  scale 
beam.  So  far  as  I  can  find,  nothing  was  done  to  remedy  this, 
except  to  supply  Government  trucks  and  to  board  up  the  scales. 
Not  a  man  was  prosecuted,  nor  were  the  employees  of  the  Sugar 
Company  even  refused  access  to  the  scales.'54 

The  frauds  themselves  were  bad,  but  this  callous  indifference 
to  the  law  and  the  interests  of  the  United  States  was  even  worse, 
and,  having  gone  as  far  as  he  could  with  punishment  under  the 
law,  Stimson  recommended  a  further  course  of  action,  one 
which  was  to  him  a  course  of  last  resort,  only  to  be  used  when 
there  was  no  longer  any  possibility  of  remedy  in  the  courts: 

"I  believe,  therefore,  that  there  is  great  need  in  this  matter 
for  the  'punishment  of  publicity.'  ...  I  believe  .  .  .  that  a 
thorough  ventilation  of  the  administration  of  the  Custom 
House  would  greatly  assist  the  efforts  of  those  officials  who  are 
trying  now  to  reform  it.  It  is  difficult  for  a  stranger  to  have  any 
notion  of  the  way  in  which  this  system  of  graft  has  entered  into 
the  conception  of  all  of  the  subordinates  of  this  service,  or  how 
they  have  stood  together  in  their  defense  of  it.  Almost  all  of 
the  [Government's]  weighers  have  taken  money,  and  even  men 
otherwise  right-minded  will  vigorously  defend  the  ethics  of 
'house  money.'  Such  a  situation  needs  the  tonic  of  public  indig- 
nation to  set  it  right. 

"For  this  reason,  it  is  my  view  that  as  soon  as  the  executive 
has  finished  its  work ;  as  soon  as  all  the  indictments  which  can 
be  found  through  the  ordinary  resources  of  the  criminal  law 
have  been  found  .  .  .  and  before  public  interest  in  the  scandal 
has  so  subsided  that  the  opportunity  is  lost,  a  public  investiga- 
tion of  the  situation  should  be  made,  and  the  facts  now  held 
under  ban  of  secrecy  made  a  matter  of  public  record."4 

It  is  important  to  observe  that  this  was  emphatically  not  an 
effort  to  influence  public  opinion  before  indictment  and  trial. 
Stimson  could  fairly  claim  that  he  never  tried  his  cases  in  the 
press;  his  steady  refusal  to  encourage  headlines  before  trial 

*  Report  to  the  President,  April  20,  1910. 


had  indeed  won  him  a  reputation  for  chilly  austerity  among 
New  York  reporters.  The  principle  here  asserted  was  the  quite 
different  one  that  known  wrongdoing  must  be  stamped  as  wrong 
by  public  opinion ;  men  whose  moral  sense  had  been  blunted 
must  be  made  to  understand  how  their  actions  looked  to  the 
people ;  the  hand  of  the  hard-pressed  reformer  must  be  upheld 
by  informed  opinion.  Public  reports,  of  known  facts  were  a 
fully  justified  and  indeed  indispensable  weapon  to  this  end. 

And  Stimson's  repugnance  to  sensational  reports  before 
trial  did  not  extend  to  any  feeling  that  proper  court  proceed- 
ings should  go  unreported.  A  year  before,  the  first  trial  and 
conviction  of  the  American  Sugar  Refining  Company  for 
custom  fraud  had  gone  almost  completely  unnoticed  in  the 
press.  Stimson  would  have  expected  the  silent  treatment  from 
the  Herald  of  James  Gordon  Bennett;  he  had  prosecuted  Ben- 
nett for  indecency  in  his  personal  columns  and  collected  a 
$25,000  fine.  He  would  have  expected  it  from  Joseph  Pulitzer's 
World]  he  had  brought  an  indictment  for  criminal  libel 
against  Pulitzer  at  T.R.'s  request.  But  the  general  reticence 
of  the  press  in  the  face  of  a  trial  whose  implications  went  so 
deep  was  extremely  disturbing,  and  he  had  turned  on  March 
8,  1909,  to  Editor  Roosevelt  of  the  Outlook  for  a  redress  of 
the  balance.  T.R.  was  delighted  to  help,  and  "The  Case  of 
the  Seventeen  Holes"  was  fully  and  accurately  reported  in 
his  weekly  on  May  i ;  subsequent  developments  received  gen- 
erous space  in  the  New  York  dailies. 

Stimson  did  not  keep  in  close  touch  with  the  customs  service 
after  1910,  but  he  always  believed  that  the  great  fraud  trials 
of  1909  and  1910  marked  a  turning  point  in  the  ethics  of  federal 
law  enforcement  on  the  docks.  And,  at  least  among  customs 
officials,  his  own  fame  persisted.  He  and  Mrs.  Stimson  traveled 
repeatedly  to  Europe  in  later  years.  On  their  return  to  New 
York  they  were  invariably  hustled  through  the  customs  with 
gingerly  respect. 

On  April  i,  1909,  Stimson  resigned  his  office.  He  had  served 
for  more  than  three  years,  and  it  was  time  to  return  to  private 
practice;  although  $10,000  a  year,  in  the  days  before  income 
tax,  was  a  fair  salary  for  a  federal  officer,  it  was  less  than  half 


of  what  he  had  earned  before,  and  he  was  feeling  the  pinch. 
And  in  a  sense  the  most  interesting  part  of  his  job  was  done. 
The  office  had  been  reorganized,  and  a  new  standard  of  effec- 
tiveness was  soundly  established.  If  he  were  to  retain  his  stand- 
ing as  a  member  of  the  New  York  bar,  he  must  sooner  or  later 
return  to  private  practice,  and  this  seemed  a  suitable  time. 

On  May  20,  in  a  gesture  as  unusual  as  it  was  heart-warming, 
the  leaders  of  the  New  York  bar  tendered  to  Stimson  a  dinner, 
and  during  the  after-dinner  speeches  they  bestowed  their 
praises  with  a  lavish  hand.  Yet  because  this  was  praise  from 
stern  judges,  and  because  it  came  from  the  men  whose  good 
opinion  he  most  coveted,  and  most  of  all  because  it  came  from 
men  who  might  have  been  expected  to  resent  and  belittle  his 
activities  against  great  corporations,  Stimson  believed  that 
parts  of  these  speeches  might  be  taken,  with  appropriate  dis- 
count, as  a  fair  summary  of  his  achievement.  At  the  least,  they 
may  serve  to  show  how  fortunate  he  had  been  in  winning  the 
kind  of  reputation  he  desired : 

"Nor  is  there  time  to  refer  to  the  many  important  litigated 
cases  which  Stimson  directed,  or  in  which  he  was  personally 
engaged.  He  had  to  deal  with  difficult  and  complicated  ques- 
tions of  law  and  fact.  He  had  to  solve  the  difficult  riddles  which 
Congress  is  constantly  framing  in  the  form  of  statutes.  He  had 
to  investigate  the  involved  accounts  of  great  railroad  systems 
and  complex  banking  transactions.  He  had  to  uncover  new 
and  subtle  schemes  for  concealing  violations  and  evasions  of 
the  law.  He  was  unaided  by  senior  counsel.  Single-handed,  he 
was  constantly  opposed  to  the  veterans  of  the  bar.  And  he  was 
almost  uniformly  successful,  not  only  in  obtaining  verdicts  and 
judgments,  but  in  holding  them.  Among  his  adversaries  were 
Mr.  Choate,  the  leader  of  the  American  bar,  Judge  Wallace, 
Judge  Parker,  Judge  Choate,  Senator  Spooner,  John  E.  Par- 
sons, John  G.  Milburn,  Austen  Fox,  DeLancey  Nicoll,  John 
M.  Bowers,  Wallace  Macfarlane,  Congressman  Littlefield, 
John  B.  Stanchfield.  .  .  . 

"Above  all  other  considerations,  it  should  be  appreciated 
that  in  all  this  conspicuous  and  successful  work,  there  was  no 
bravado  or  parade  or  bombast,  no  press  interviews,  no  calling 
the  newspapermen  together  and  communicating  to  them  the 


plans  and  exploits  of  his  office,  no  beating  of  kettledrums,  no 
eager  straining  after  notoriety  and  applause,  no  exhibitions  of 
vanity  and  conceit,  no  interjection  of  his  own  personality;  only 
the  plain,  quiet,  unostentatious,  faithful,  and  impartial  per- 
formance of  his  duty  as  he  understood  it.  Truly  may  he  be  said 
to  have  redeemed  the  administration  of  justice  by  the  federal 
authorities  from  the  reproach  and  contempt  into  which  it  was 
falling,  and  vindicated  and  upheld  the  supremacy  of  the  law. 
He  showed  how  justice  could  be  effectively  and  impartially  ad- 
ministered by  gentlemanly  and  dignified  methods.'55 

And  from  the  leading  lawyer  of  New  York,  Joseph  H. 
Choate,  who  presided  at  the  dinner,  came  a  still  more  ringing 
tribute : 

"It  has  been  the  good  fortune  of  Mr.  Stimson  during  the 
last  three  years  to  hold  that  office  when  it  was  charged  with 
the  severest  responsibilities,  the  most  onerous  duties,  and  the 
most  complex  difficulties  that  I  think  have  ever  surrounded 
any  law  office  in  the  United  States.  Here  center  the  great  in- 
terests of  the  nation,  and  the  cases  that  have  come  into  his 
hands  for  presentation  and  argument  have  been  of  the  utmost 
importance.  I  have  observed  with  great  interest  his  self-reli- 
ance, his  courage,  his  absolutely  perfect  preparation,  and  that 
tenacity  of  purpose  which  distinguishes  all  the  great  lawyers 
that  I  have  ever  known  .  .  .  and  you  will  bear  me  witness  that 
he  has  always  held  his  own  against  [the  leaders  of  the  bar] 
and  has  never  been  charged  with  anything  oppressive,  or  bru- 
tal, or  cruel,  which  so  often  pertains  to  the  office  of  prosecut- 
ing officer." 

Stimson's  success  as  United  States  Attorney  is  an  important 
factor  in  his  later  career ;  it  gave  him  his  first  public  reputa- 
tion and  opened  the  door  to  immediate  and  striking  opportu- 
nities. But  it  is  not  the  cases  tried,  or  the  reputation  won,  that 
is  most  important  for  our.  purpose.  It  is  rather  the  effect  of  his 
experience  on  Stimson's  own  attitudes.  This  was  his  first 
public  office,  and  it  was  a  case  of  love  at  first  sight,  as  Mrs. 
Stimson  often  smilingly  complained  in  later  years.  How  it 
struck  him  is  best  revealed  in  the  report  of  his  twentieth  Yale 
reunion  in  1908.  Talking  to  his  classmates,  in  the  intimate 

5  Remarks  of  William  D.  Guthrie. 


informality  of  a  small  group  of  lifelong  friends,  he  explained 
what  it  meant  to  him  to  become  attorney  for  the  United  States : 
"The  last  two  years  of  my  life  have  represented  a  complete 
change  in  my  professional  career.  The  profession  of  the  law 
was  never  thoroughly  satisfactory  to  me,  simply  because  the 
life  of  the  ordinary  New  York  lawyer  is  primarily  and  essen- 
tially devoted  to  the  making  of  money — and  not  always  suc- 
cessfully so.  There  are  some  opportunities  to  do  good  in  it.  ... 
[But]  it  has  always  seemed  to  me,  in  the  law,  from  what  I  have 
seen  of  it,  that  wherever  the  public  interest  has  come  into  con- 
flict with  private  interests,  private  interest  was  more  ade- 
quately represented  than  the  public  interest.  Whenever  a  great 
public  question  has  come  up,  in  which  there  has  been  a  rich 
corporation  on  one  side  and  only  the  people  on  the  other,  it 
has  seemed  to  me  that  the  former  always  had  the  ablest  and 
most  successful  lawyer  to  defend  it,  and  very  often  the  side  of 
the  people  seemed  to  go  almost  by  default.  I  have  found  com- 
paratively few  successful  lawyers,  in  modern  times,  putting 
their  shoulders  to  the  public  wheel.  .  .  .  My  private  practice, 
up  to  the  last  three  years,  brought  me  constantly  into  contact 
with  the  side  of  the  corporation,  and  the  office  I  was  in  con- 
stantly represented  the  larger  corporations  of  New  York.  And, 
therefore,  when  I  was  taken,  as  you  might  say,  by  the  back  of 
the  neck,  and  started  out  without  anticipating  it  and  without 
expecting  it,  and  turned  loose  with  nothing  but  my  oath  of 
office  to  guide  me,  the  first  feeling  was  that  I  had  gotten  out 
of  the  dark  places  where  I  had  been  wandering  all  my  life, 
and  got  out  where  I  could  see  the  stars  and  get  my  bearings 
once  more ;  and  there  has  been,  during  those  two  years,  a  feel- 
ing that  the  work  I  was  doing  amounted  to  a  little  bit,  or 
would  amount  to  something  if  I  put  my  whole  heart  into  it 
and  did  it  thoroughly.  And  it  has  made  a  tremendous  differ- 
ence and  a  tremendous  change  in  the  satisfaction  of  my  pro- 
fessional life.  There  has  been  an  ethical  side  of  it  which  has 
been  of  more  interest  to  me,  and  I  have  felt  that  I  could  get  a 
good  deal  closer  to  the  problems  of  life  than  I  ever  did  before, 
and  felt  that  the  work  was  a  good  deal  more  worth  while.  And 
one  always  feels  better  when  he  feels  that  he  is  working  in  a 
good  cause." 

C  H  A  P  T  E  R    II 

With  Roosevelt  and  Taft 

STIMSON'S  years  as  United  States  Attorney  made  him 
one  of  the  trusted  lieutenants  of  the  Roosevelt  administra- 
tion, and  he  found  the  end  of  T.R.'s  term  an  emotional  and 
somewhat  saddening  time.  He  went  to  Washington  for  the 
famous  farewell  luncheon  of  the  Tennis  Cabinet,  and  when 
the  Colonel  sailed  for  Africa,  Stimson  was  happy  to  have  been 
chosen  to  act  as  his  agent  at  home  in  a  number  of  small  personal 
matters.  The  good  fight  continued,  for  Stimson  at  least,  in  the 
new  administration.  For  the  next  year  and  a  half  he  was  largely 
occupied  with  the  completion  of  his  customs  cases,  and  he 
received  from  President  Taft  and  Attorney  General  Wicker- 
sham  exactly  the  same  wholehearted  support  that  he  had  be- 
come used  to  with  President  Roosevelt  and  Attorneys  General 
Moody  and  Bonaparte. 

In  the  three  years  that  followed  the  inauguration  of  Mr. 
Taft,  the  controlling  factor  in  American  political  life  was  the 
fluctuating  relationship  between  the  ex-President  and  the 
President.  In  the  end,  in  1912,  the  two  men  became  open 
enemies,  and  the  Republican  party  was  split  down  the  middle. 
To  Stimson  this  result  was  both  unnecessary  and  catastrophic. 
Throughout  the  three-year  period  before  the  break  he  was 
active  in  politics,  and  his  weight  was  continuously  thrown  in 
favor  of  party  and  personal  harmony.  As  a  result  of  the  events 
of  those  years  he  was  twice  selected  for  important  assignments, 
once  by  Mr.  Roosevelt  and  once  by  Mr.  Taft.  As  a  loyal 
admirer  of  both  men,  he  refused  to  believe,  then  or  later,  that 
their  differences  were  irreconcilable.  Almost  until  the  end,  he 
hoped  for  peace  and  party  unity.  Almost  from  the  beginning, 
the  current  ran  against  his  hopes. 



In  June,  1910,  when  T.R.  returned  in  triumph  from  his 
African  expedition  and  his  grand  tour  of  Europe,  the  situation 
was  already  difficult.  Mr.  Taft  had  been  nominated  and 
elected  as  the  direct  heir  of  Mr.  Roosevelt.  The  comradeship 
and  affection  between  the  two  men  had  been  famous  for  many 
years,  and  in  T.R.'s  Cabinet,  Secretary  of  War  Taft  had  been 
in  many  ways  an  assistant  President.  In  1908,  in  their  explicit 
policies  and  principles,  the  two  men  were  indistinguishable; 
as  a  candidate  Mr.  Taft  repeatedly  announced  that  his  whole 
program  and  purpose  was  the  consolidation  of  the  Roosevelt 
policies.  But  in  the  first  year  of  his  term  there  arose  two  serious 
issues  that  served  to  alienate  many  progressive  Republicans 
who  idolized  Colonel  Roosevelt. 

One  was  the  tariff.  In  later  years  Stimson  came  to  believe 
that  tariff  revision  was  full  of  danger  for  all  Republican  presi- 
dents who  dared  to  face  it;  with  the  best  will  in  the  world,  no 
Republican  seemed  able  to  stave  off  the  logrolling  of  special 
interests.  In  1909,  after  pledging  his  support  to  tariff  reduc- 
tion, Mr.  Taft  finally  signed  the  notorious  Payne-Aldrich 
tariff,  whose  extensive  rate  increases  had  been  ruthlessly  ex- 
posed by  progressive  Senate  Republicans.  And  what  happened 
to  Mr.  Taft  in  1909  was  to  happen  to  Mr.  Hoover  in  1930. 
Both  times  it  was  hoped  that  this  logrolling  orgy  would  be 
the  last  one,  and  both  Presidents  set  much  store  by  their  suc- 
cess in  setting  up  executive  tariff  commissions  to  establish  the 
basis  for  a  sensible  tariff.  But  both  times  their  hopes  proved 
unfounded.  Both  times  the  new  and  higher  tariff  promptly 
became  highly  unpopular  throughout  the  country,  and  in  both 
cases  the  presidents  concerned  were  reduced  to  defensive 
claims  that  the  measures  might  have  been  worse.  The  guilt  for 
the  tariff  increases  in  fact  belonged  to  Republicans  and  Demo- 
crats, East  and  West  alike,  but  in  both  cases  these  increases 
became  a  major  cause  of  dissension  within  the  Republican 
party,  and  of  organized  insurgency  against  the  President. 

In  1909  Stimson  had  no  part  in  the  tariff  agitation;  but  in 
the  other  main  issue  between  Taft  and  the  Republican  progres- 
sives he  was  for  a  time  closely  concerned.  The  famous  Bal- 
linger-Pinchot  controversy  remains  today  a  matter  of  debate 
among  public  men  and  historians,  some  holding  that  Secretary 


of  the  Interior  Ballinger  was  greatly  wronged,  and  others  that 
only  the  prompt  and  energetic  public  opposition  of  Gififord 
Pinchot  and  his  young  friend  Louis  R.  Glavis  prevented  a 
disastrous  reversal  of  the  conservation  policies  of  Theodore 
Roosevelt.  What  is  not  a  matter  of  doubt  is  that  the  controversy 
made  a  permanent  break  between  President  Taf  t  and  the  more 
emotional  progressives. 

Stimson's  own  sympathies  in  the  Ballinger-Pinchot  affair 
were  with  Pinchot,  who  was  a  lifelong  friend.  He  was  con- 
sulted by  Pinchot  and  was  instrumental  in  the  selection  of  Mr. 
George  W.  Pepper  to  represent  Pinchot  before  the  congres- 
sional committee  which  ultimately  heard  the  issues  between 
Ballinger  and  Pinchot.  In  the  early  preparation  of  the  case 
he  also  met  and  became  friendly  with  Louis  D.  Brandeis,  who 
was  retained  by  Collier's  magazine  to  show  that  its  accusations 
against  Ballinger  were  justified.  The  majority  report  of  the 
committee  cleared  Ballinger  of  malfeasance,  but  the  general 
public  reaction  was  unfavorable  to  the  Taft  administration. 
Stimson,  however,  did  not  share  in  the  antiadministration  sen- 
timent thus  stirred  up. 

The  Payne-Aldrich  tariff  and  the  Ballinger-Pinchot  case, 
in  combination  with  a  number  of  smaller  incidents  rising  out  of 
Mr.  Taft's  temperamental  aversion  to  Western  progressives, 
had  laid  the  groundwork  for  a  split  in  the  Republican  party 
by  the  time  T.R.  arrived  from  Europe.  The  ex-President's 
warm  affection  for  Mr.  Taft  had  already  cooled  considerably; 
real  or  fancied  slights  were  almost  inevitable  in  the  changed 
relationship  of  the  two  men.  T.R.'s  silence  about  the  Taft 
administration  was  complete,  but  he  listened,  at  Oyster  Bay, 
to  a  series  of  Republicans  of  all  stripes.  His  intimate  friend 
Henry  Cabot  Lodge  and  his  son-in-law  Nicholas  Longworth 
came  to  argue  the  case  of  the  Republican  regulars.  Pinchot 
and  James  Garfield  came  to  explain  to  their  beloved  chief  how 
his  policies  had  been  betrayed ;  Pinchot  had  already  told  his 
story  once,  in  a  quick  trip  to  Egypt.  And  Stimson  came — as 
Root  already  had  in  London — to  urge  the  Colonel  not  to  get 
into  the  internecine  party  strife,  but  to  bide  his  time  and  avoid 
a  split  with  Taft.  So  far  as  Stimson  could  see  at  this  time,  it 


was  this  middle-of-the-road  advice  that  accorded  with  T.R.'s 
own  views. 

Meanwhile  there  was  trouble  brewing  nearer  home,  in  New 
York;  and  this  nearer  trouble  was  to  bring  Theodore  Roose- 
velt and  Stimson  closer  together  than  ever  before. 


The  Governor  of  New  York  in  1910  was  Charles  Evans 
Hughes,  whose  investigation  of  insurance  companies  had  led 
to  his  nomination  in  1906.  In  four  years  of  campaigning  and 
administration  Hughes  had  won  a  nation-wide  reputation  as  a 
first-rate  leader  and  executive ;  he  had  demonstrated  the  power 
of  an  aggressive  governor  to  force  reform  by  the  pressure  of 
public  opinion.  In  so  doing,  however,  he  had  earned  the 
violent  opposition  of  regular  politicians  in  his  own  party.  In 
April,  1910,  by  his  acceptance  of  appointment  to  the  United 
States  Supreme  Court,  he  lost  his  greatest  political  weapon, 
for  his  approaching  withdrawal  from  New  York  politics 
to  the  Court  left  him  with  no  chance  to  use  his  great  popularity 
as  a  threat  against  the  machine.  At  the  same  time,  in  an  effort 
to  complete  his  reform  program,  Hughes  was  heavily  engaged 
in  a  battle  for  the  direct  primary — a  measure  feared  and  hated 
by  machine  politicians.  At  the  Harvard  Commencement  late 
in  June  he  urged  T.R.  to  pitch  in  and  help.  Theodore  Roose- 
velt was  not  the  man  to  run  away  from  a  fight;  the  direct  pri- 
mary was  a  cause  he  believed  in,  and  his  support  was  promptly 
and  publicly  given  to  Hughes's  bill.  Almost  as  promptly  the 
bill  was  defeated,  and  T.R.  chose  to  consider  that  he  must  fight 
to  the  bitter  end  for  a  victory  over  the  forces  of  evil.  The 
scene  of  battle  shifted  to  the  forthcoming  September  conven- 
tion of  the  Republican  party  at  Saratoga,  where  a  platform 
and  a  candidate  would  be  adopted  for  the  gubernatorial  elec- 
tion in  November.  At  this  point  Stimson  was  drawn  into  the 
matter.  He  had  been  mentioned  as  a  possible  candidate  for 
Governor  even  before  Colonel  Roosevelt's  return,  and  in  the 
middle  of  June  at  Sagamore  Hill  T.R.  himself  had  remarked 
to  Stimson  that  he  would  be  the  best  Governor,  though  not  the 
best  candidate. 


July  and  August  Stimson  spent  on  vacation  in  Europe;  when 
he  returned,  the  Colonel  was  in  the  West,  making  the  series 
of  speeches  which  defined  his  New  Nationalism  in  terms  as 
terrifying  to  conservatives  as  they  were  heartening  to  the  insur- 
gents. Stimson  wrote  congratulating  his  friend  and  leader  on 
the  famous  Osawatomie  speech,  the  most  terrifying  of  the  lot. 
At  the  same  time,  true  to  his  continuing  conviction  that  a  split 
with  Mr.  Taft  would  be  catastrophic,  he  urged  the  Colonel  to 
speak  as  warmly  as  possible  about  the  Washington  administra- 
tion. The  reason  for  this  position  is  important,  for  it  is  central 
to  Stimson's  political  thinking: 

"I  was  much  pleased  that  you  enumerated  a  definite  and 
constructive  radical  platform  at  Osawatomie. 

"The  only  thing  I  wished  to  say  particularly  is  that  it  seems 
to  me  vitally  important  that  the  reform  should  go  in  the  way 
of  a  regeneration  of  the  Republican  party  and  not  by  the 
formation  of  a  new  party.  To  me  it  seems  vitally  important 
that  the  Republican  party,  which  contains,  generally  speaking, 
the  richer  and  more  intelligent  citizens  of  the  country,  should 
take  the  lead  in  reform  and  not  drift  into  a  reactionary  posi- 
tion. If,  instead,  the  leadership  should  fall  into  the  hands  of 
either  an  independent  party  or  a  party  composed,  like  the 
Democrats,  largely  of  foreign  elements  and  the  classes  which 
will  immediately  benefit  by  the  reform,  and  if  the  solid  busi- 
ness Republicans  should  drift  into  new  obstruction,  I  fear  the 
necessary  changes  could  hardly  be  accomplished  without  much 
excitement  and  possibly  violence.  ...  I  think  the  attempt 
to  reform  the  Republican  party  can  be  made  successful  and 
that  that  should  be  the  aim.  ...  I  have  heard  .  .  .  that  even 
in  advocating  certain  policies  supported  by  Taft  you  studiously 
avoid  his  name.  I  have  denied  that  there  could  have  been  any 
such  purpose.  But  it  seems  to  me  that  if  you  could  avoid  this 
criticism  it  would  go  a  long  way  in  the  direction  above  men- 
tioned. It  would  emphasize  the  continuity  of  the  reform  inside 
the  Republican  party,  of  which  Taft  is  now  the  official  head."1 
Colonel  Roosevelt  did  not  answer  this  letter  directly,  but  in 
conversations  on  Long  Island  during  September  Stimson 
found  no  reason  to  believe  that  his  advice  was  unacceptable. 

1  Letter  to  Theodore  Roosevelt,  September  2,  1910. 


The  immediate  problem  was  in  New  York.  Although  Stim- 
son  had  originally  hoped  that  T.R.  would  stay  out  of  the 
battle  in  the  state,  he  supported  Colonel  Roosevelt's  campaign 
for  election  as  temporary  chairman  of  the  Saratoga  convention. 
The  issue  in  New  York  was  to  him  essentially  the  same  as  in 
the  nation — it  was  a  battle  to  win  the  Republican  party  to  the 
cause  of  reform.  The  objection  to  fighting  it  in  September, 
1910,  was  tactical;  Republican  machine  opposition  to  the 
direct  primary,  together  with  some  unsavory  political  scandals 
of  the  previous  winter  in  Albany,  added  to  the  evident  trend 
away  from  the  party  in  power  throughout  the  country,  made 
a  defeat  in  November  seem  inevitable — for  any  Republican. 
This  objection  did  not  disturb  Stimson  for  himself — he  was 
not  impressed  by  the  talk  of  his  availability  as  a  candidate — 
but  he  hated  to  see  the  ex-President  hazard  his  great  name 
and  invaluable  prestige  in  a  losing  fight.  Only  after  the  Colonel 
had  by  his  own  decision  become  the  leader  of  the  fight  did 
Stimson  enlist  as  his  ardent  supporter — there  was  then  no  other 
possible  course.  The  object  of  the  battle  was  now  a  simple 
one — to  elect  Theodore  Roosevelt  as  temporary  chairman  at 
Saratoga  over  the  machine  candidate,  a  personally  estimable 
stand-pat  conservative  who  was  also  the  Vice  President  of 
the  United  States.  Vice  President  Sherman  was  not  openly 
endorsed  by  President  Taft,  but  there  was  clearly  tension  in 
Washington  as  the  battle  developed. 

The  Saratoga  convention  was  to  open  on  September  27. 
Well  before  that  date,  it  became  clear  to  the  reformers  that 
Roosevelt  was  probably  going  to  win  his  fight;  speculation 
turned  to  the  question  of  his  choice  of  a  candidate  for  Gover- 
nor, and  Stimson's  name  came  forward  more  prominently  than 
before — he  was  known  as  one  of  T.R.'s  particular  proteges  in 
New  York.  So  on  September  24  Stimson  raised  the  subject 
with  the  Colonel : 

"I  told  him  that  during  the  last  day  or  two  hints  had  com6 
to  me  indicating  that  the  New  York  [city]  leaders  felt  that 
I  was  probably  going  to  be  the  candidate,  and  I  wanted  to  warn 
him  particularly  against  my  candidacy  as  affecting  his  own 
prestige  and  leadership  in  the  country.  I  said  to  him,  'If  I  run 
and  am  defeated,  as  looks  now  almost  certain,  it  will  be  made  a 


defeat  for  you.  Our  relations  have  been  so  close  that  I  will  be 
taken  to  be  your  personal  candidate,  and  when  I  am  defeated 
it  will  be  used  to  injure  your  leadership.'  He  said,  'I  have  con- 
sidered all  that.  So  far  as  my  own  personal  position  is  con- 
cerned I  do  not  care  in  the  least.  I  should  be  proud  to  go  down 
fighting  for  you.  On  the  other  hand,  I  do  realize  the  disad- 
vantage and  the  chance  for  attack  which  lies  in  our  close 
association.  For  that  reason  I  have  felt  that  an  upstate  man 
should  be  chosen.  But  the  trouble  is  that  there  is  no  one  who 
measures  up  to  the  situation.  We  cannot  put  up  a  man  of  whom 
it  will  be  said  that  we  put  him  up  to  be  defeated.  We  believe 
we  are  fighting  for  a  big  issue,  and  to  do  a  thing  like  that 
would  stultify  us  at  once.  I  am  still  trying  to  find  a  good  up- 
state man.'  "2 

At  Saratoga  on  the  twenty-sixth  the  matter  came  up  again, 
in  a  meeting  between  Colonel  Roosevelt,  Elihu  Root,  and  Stim- 
son.  As  Stimson  recalled  it,  "Root  said  .  .  .  ,  'Isn't  there  some 
way  we  can  keep  Harry  out  of  this?  I  hate  to  have  him  sacri- 
ficed.' Roosevelt  then  said,  cSo  do  I ;  but  I  have  the  feeling  that 
with  a  good  fight  a  licking  won't  necessarily  hurt  him.'  Then 
Root  said,  That  might  be  so  if  it  wasn't  too  bad  a  licking;  but 
I  am  afraid  we  are  in  for  a  terrible  licking,  and  then  it  will  be 
different.  I  think  the  country  has  made  up  its  mind  to  change 
parties.  It  is  like  a  man  in  bed.  He  wants  to  roll  over.  He 
doesn't  know  why  he  wants  to  roll  over,  but  he  just  does ;  and 
he'll  do  it.'  Roosevelt  said,  'That's  so.  I  think  you  are 
right.'  "3  Either  that  evening  or  twenty-four  hours  later 
Stimson  had  a  further  long  talk  alone  with  Root,  "discussing 
the  conditions  under  which  it  would  or  would  not  be  my 
duty  to  run";  Stimson  and  Root  agreed  that  if  the  party 
leaders  on  the  reform  side  thought  Stimson  their  best 
candidate,  he  should  accept  the  nomination.  But  his  own 
preference  was  strongly  against  running,  and  he  would  make 
no  effort  whatever  to  win  support.  On  this  understanding 
Stimson  left  the  matter  in  the  hands  of  his  oldest  counselor  and 
guide.  On  the  twenty-seventh  T.R.  was  triumphantly  elected 

2  Personal  Recollections  of  the  convention  and  campaign  of  1910,  probably  written 
about  December,  1910. 

3  Personal  Recollections  of  1910. 


as  temporary  chairman,  and  that  night,  in  a  hotel  room  very 
probably  smoke-filled,  he  and  his  colleagues  in  the  battle 
against  reaction  met  for  several  hours ;  Stimson,  waiting  out- 
side, went  to  bed.  Some  time  after  midnight  he  was  awakened 
and  told  that  he  was  the  choice  of  the  reform  leaders  as  candi- 
date for  Governor.  To  put  it  bluntly,  he  was  T.R.'s  hand- 
picked  candidate,  selected  as  the  best  man  to  run  with  credit 
in  a  losing  cause.  But  it  was  his  cause  as  well  as  the  Colonel's, 
and  he  cheerfully  accepted  the  nomination.  Like  almost  every 
other  candidate  in  history,  he  promptly  forgot  his  gloomy  fore- 
bodings of  the  week  before  and  set  out  to  win,  with  the  ener- 
getic support  of  the  greatest  campaigner  of  the  time,  his  friend 
and  leader  Theodore  Roosevelt.  At  the  worst,  it  would  be  a 
good  fight. 

Nothing  about  the  campaign  of  1910  in  New  York  was 
so  important  for  Stimson's  life  as  the  simple  fact  that  he  did 
not  win.  The  defeat  did  not  do  him  any  important  damage, 
but  victory  would  almost  surely  have  opened  to  him  a  strong 
possibility  of  great  advancement,  even  toward  the  White 
House.  At  the  least  it  would  have  made  him  a  commanding 
national  figure  at  a  very  early  age.  And  possibly — this  was  the 
thought  that  struck  him  with  particular  force  in  1947 — his 
victory,  which  would  have  been  T.R.'s  victory  too,  might  have 
served  to  sustain  that  great  leader  in  his  original  inclination  to 
work  out  the  New  Nationalism  within  the  Republican  party. 
But  Stimson  and  Colonel  Roosevelt  did  not  win. 

The  principal  and  overriding  reason  for  their  defeat  was 
that  mysterious  but  evident  tendency  which  Elihu  Root  had 
described  in  September — every  so  often  the  people  decide  to 
roll  over.  The  political  ineptness  of  Mr.  Taft,  as  shown  in  the 
Payne-Aldrich  tariff  and  the  Ballinger-Pinchot  controversy, 
certainly  contributed;  the  dubious  conduct  of  the  machine 
Republicans  in  Albany  contributed  more;  the  high  cost  of 
living  was  a  major  issue,  and  it  was  quite  useless  for  Stimson  to 
point  out,  as  he  repeatedly  did,  that  the  Governor  of  New 
York  State  had  no  influence  whatever  on  this  item.  In  Novem- 
ber, 1910,  the  people  rolled  over,  and  it  was  small  consolation 
that  in  New  York  they  rolled  less  far  than  in  most  other  states. 


The  campaign  in  New  York  was  fought  on  very  few  issues. 
The  Republicans  fought  for  a  continuation  of  the  Hughes 
policies  and  against  Tammany  control.  The  Democrats — 
and  many  conservative  Republicans — fought  against  T.R. 
Over  and  over  again  they  argued  that  Stimson  for  Governor 
in  1910  meant  Roosevelt  for  President  in  1912.  When  they 
wearied  of  this  chant,  the  Democrats  would  unconcernedly 
blame  the  Republicans  of  New  York  for  all  the  failures  of  the 
Taft  administration,  and  then  they  would  discourse  on  the 
extravagance  of  Governor  Hughes,  promising  meanwhile  to 
extend  the  benefits  which  Hughes  had  instituted  at  some  public 
expense.  It  was  not,  on  the  Democratic  side,  a  brilliant  cam- 
paign. The  Democrats  knew  perfectly  well  that  they  were 
going  to  win,  and  their  candidate,  an  honorable  papermaker 
named  John  A.  Dix,  who  later  proved  almost  as  subservient 
to  Tammany  as  Stimson  foretold  in  his  speeches,  conducted  a 
front-porch  campaign,  safe,  dignified,  and  not  talkative. 

Meanwhile  Stimson  was  trying  to  make  up  by  energy  what 
he  lacked  in  experience.  He  had  rung  doorbells  and  helped  to 
organize  the  vote  in  a  single  Assembly  district,  but  a  state-wide 
campaign  was  wholly  new  to  him,  and  the  arts  of  the  campaign 
speaker  were  not  his  natural  forte.  Years  later  Felix  Frank- 
furter, who  traveled  with  Stimson  in  his  special  train  as  brain 
trust  and  factotum,  could  recall  the  high-pitched  but  friendly 
scolding  of  T.R.,  'Darn  it,  Harry,  a 'campaign  speech  is  a 
poster,  not  an  etching!'  But  in  four  weeks  of  ceaseless  speech- 
making,  six  or  seven  times  a  day,  Stimson  gradually  improved. 
If  he  lacked  the  explosive  and  contagious  enthusiasm  of  T.R. 
and  perhaps  also  the  experience  and  skill  of  Hughes,  he  was 
nevertheless,  he  always  insisted,  a  reasonably  competent  cam- 
paigner. His  principal  problem  was  to  prove  by  personal  force 
that  he  was  not  just  Theodore  Roosevelt's  puppet,  and  he 
gradually  developed  a  glowing  paragraph  which  seldom  failed 
to  win  applause.  These  were  the  days  before  the  radio,  when 
one  good  speech  with  variations  would  last  for  most  of  a 
campaign,  and  the  following  apostrophe,  taken  from  a  speech 
delivered  at  Amsterdam,  is  typical  of  dozens  very  much  like 
it:  "My  opponents  have  been  shouting  through  the  state  one 
argument  against  me  ...  they  say  you  must  not  vote  for  Stim- 


son  because  he  is  Roosevelt's  man  [prolonged  applause].  .  .  . 
If  they  mean  when  they  say  that  that  I  admire  the  standards  of 
courage  and  integrity  and  civic  righteousness  which  Theodore 
Roosevelt  has  shown  for  thirty  years  [applause],  if  they  mean 
that,  why  then  I  am  frank  to  say  that  I  am  Roosevelt's  man  and 
I  am  proud  of  it  [applause].  But  if  they  mean  something  else, 
if  they  mean  something  very  different,  if  they  mean  that  if  you 
should  elect  me  Governor  of  this  state  I  would  administer  this 
great  office  according  to  any  other  suggestion  or  any  other 
dictation  than  my  own  will  and  my  own  oath  of  office,  why 
then  I  say  to  you  that  I  am  not  only  not  Mr.  Roosevelt's  man 
but  I  am  not  any  man's  man  [applause]  and  I  think  you  will 
find  that  Colonel  Roosevelt,  from  his  experience  with  me  as 
District  Attorney  when  he  was  President,  will  be  the  first  one 
to  tell  you  so  [applause]." 

Many  of  Stimson's  friends  argued  that  Colonel  Roosevelt's 
energetic  help  was  doing  him  more  harm  than  good.  Stimson 
wholly  disagreed.  It  was  true  that  Roosevelt-haters  in  New 
York  City  were  giving  their  money  to  the  Democrats ;  it  was 
true  that  Stimson's  father  no  longer  found  it  pleasant  to  visit  his 
club  because  so  many  of  the  members  were  rabid  about  the 
socialist  Roosevelt  and  his  tool  Stimson ;  it  was  true  that  the 
daily  press  of  New  York  City,  with  two  exceptions,  was 
opposed  to  Stimson  because  he  was  Mr.  Roosevelt's  friend. 
All  these  considerations  together  did  not  outweigh  the  magic 
of  T.R.'s  appeal  to  the  ordinary  voter.  Before  the  Saratoga 
convention  Stimson  heard  a  wise  professional  politician  esti- 
mate that  the  Republicans  would  lose  in  November  by  300,000 
votes;  the  difference  between  this  gloomy  forecast  and  the 
actual  margin  of  66,000  he  thought  mainly  attributable  to 
the  campaigning  of  Theodore  Roosevelt. 

The  real  source  of  damage  within  the  party,  as  Stimson  saw 
it,  was  not  Mr.  Roosevelt  but  the  regular  Republican  machine. 
The  battle  of  Saratoga  ended  with  a  closing  of  ranks  on  the 
part  of  such  regulars  as  James  Wadsworth  and  Job  Hedges, 
but  there  were  others  who  did  not  so  readily  forgive.  Stim- 
son's zealous  and  devoted  friends  among  the  younger  Repub- 
licans did  what  they  could  to  organize  and  manage  his  cam- 
paign, but  many  of  the  professionals  on  whom  they  relied  were 


cool  and  distant.  And  many  Republicans  in  the  Washington 
administration  felt  that  a  Stimson  victory  would  be  of  no  value 
to  Mr.  Taft.  The  President  himself  was  cordial  in  his  public 
support,  but  he  would  have  been  more  than  human  if  he  had 
not  felt  that  victory  in  New  York  was  less  important  than 
victory  in  states  where  T.R.  was  not  so  active. 

At  the  same  time,  oddly  enough,  the  more  ardent  progres- 
sives were  temporarily  annoyed  at  both  Stimson  and  Colonel 
Roosevelt  for  compromising  with  the  regulars.  The  Saratoga 
platform  contained  a  hearty  endorsement  of  the  Taft  adminis- 
tration, and  both  Stimson  and  the  Colonel  treated  their  fight 
as  part  of  the  general  Republican  cause.  Gifford  Pinchot's 
personal  loyalty  was  great  enough  to  bring  him  to  an  offer  of 
speech-making  support,  but  he  coupled  his  offer  with  a  warn- 
ing that  he  must  be  free  to  attack  President  Taft,  and  Stimson 
did  not  accept  his  help.  So  hard  it  was  already,  in  1910,  even 
in  a  state  election,  to  keep  party  harmony  among  the  deeply 
divided  Republicans. 

But  it  was  an  energetic  campaign,  and  Stimson  enjoyed  it. 
He  knew  his  cause  was  good ;  he  had  nothing  to  lose ;  he  was 
proud  of  both  his  friends  and  his  enemies.  When  the  election 
returns  rolled  in  and  he  realized  he  was  beaten,  he  found  him- 
self undismayed.  He  promptly  congratulated  Governor-elect 
Dix  and  announced  his  conviction  that  the  fight  for  progressive 
policies  had  just  begun.  The  defeat  of  1910  was  a  setback,  but 
not  a  major  disaster.  The  major  disaster  lay  ahead,  but  the 
main  immediate  effect  of  the  campaign  on  Stimson  himself 
was  that  it  gave  him  within  six  months  a  new  and  unexpected 
opportunity  for  service.  In  spite  of  his  eloquence,  he  was 
marked  as  "Roosevelt's  man,"  and  as  such  he  had  acquired  a 
particular  value  for  William  Howard  Taft. 


In  the  spring  of  1911  President  Taft  accepted  the  resigna- 
tion of  Secretary  of  War  Jacob  Dickinson,  who  wished  to  give 
more  attention  to  his  private  affairs.  Casting  about  for  a  new 
Secretary,  he  was  bound  to  consider  the  internal  condition  of 
the  Republican  party.  He  knew  that  the  old  personal  affection 


between  himself  and  Theodore  Roosevelt  was  dead ;  both  had 
done  thoughtless  things  and  spoken  incautiously  among 
friends,  and  partisans  of  both  had  been  unkindly  quick  to  kin- 
dle the  consuming  fires  of  mutual  mistrust.  But  the  end  of  a 
friendship  was  not  the  same  thing  as  the  destruction  of  the 
party.  T.R.  had  greatly  disturbed  the  President  with  his 
speeches  in  the  summer  of  1910,  but  during  the  campaign  in 
the  autumn  he  had  been  less  of  a  maverick,  and  after  the  elec- 
tion Oyster  Bay  became  very  quiet  indeed.  The  President 
wanted  nothing  so  much  as  assurance  that  Colonel  Roosevelt 
would  stay  out  of  the  1912  campaign;  one  way  to  attain  this 
result  might  be  to  disarm  the  Colonel's  criticism  by  bringing 
into  the  administration  some  men  of  his  type.  When  Secretary 
Ballinger  resigned  in  March,  191 1,  Mr.  Taft  appointed  Walter 
L.  Fisher,  a  distinguished  conservationist,  to  be  Secretary  of 
the  Interior,  and  in  May,  against  the  advice  of  conservatives 
in  the  Cabinet,  he  offered  the  job  of  Secretary  of  War  to  Stim- 

"The  first  intimation  that  I  received  that  my  name  was  being 
considered  for  appointment  came  through  Senator  Root.  He 
asked  me  to  meet  him  uptown  in  New  York ;  he  told  me  that 
Mr.  Dickinson  was  about  to  resign  and  that  my  name  was 
under  consideration  by  the  President.  I  think  that  this  was  on 
Monday,  May  8th.  I  asked  him  his  advice  and  he  advised  me  to 
accept  the  appointment.  ...  I  think  on  Wednesday  night,  I 
received  a  long-distance  message  from  Hilles,  asking  if  I  could 
meet  him  the  following  morning  in  New  York.  I  met  him  at 
the  Manhattan  Hotel.  He  told  me  that  Mr.  Taft  was  prepared 
to  offer  me  the  appointment  if  I  would  accept.  I  raised  the 
question  of  my  political  sympathies.  I  told  Hilles  that  Mr. 
Taft  ought  to  know  that  in  the  Pinchot-Ballinger  issue  I  had 
strongly  sympathized  with  Mr.  Pinchot  and  still  did  so.  Hilles 
said  tjiat  he  did  not  think  that  this  would  interfere  with  the 
appointment  as  that  was  over,  but  that  he  would  talk  it  over 
with  Mr.  Taft.  ...  He  said  'The  President  thinks  that  you 
are  in  general  sympathy  with  his  attitude  which  is  of  a  middle- 
of-the-road  progressive,  not  running  to  extreme  radicalism  on 
one  side  or  to  conservatism  on  the  other.'  I  told  him  I  thought 
that  was  true.  I  further  said  that  before  I  could  answer  defi- 


nitely,  I  must  consult  four  persons :  my  wife,  my  father,  my  law 
partner,  and  Colonel  Roosevelt.  Mr.  Hilles  told  me  that  the 
President  was  anxious  to  have  the  matter  settled  as  soon  as  pos- 
sible, and  I  told  him  I  would  communicate  with  these  people 
as  soon  as  possible.  I  did  this  at  once,  seeing  my  partner  that 
morning,  my  wife  that  evening,  and  Colonel  Roosevelt  either 
that  evening  or  the  following  evening.  My  father  was  at  sea 
and  I  communicated  with  him  by  wireless,  receiving  finally 
his  reply  on  Friday  evening,  May  i2th,  when  I  at  once  tele- 
phoned to  Washington.  My  acceptance  of  the  appointment  was 
announced  in  the  papers  of  Saturday  morning,  May  i3th. 
Hilles  told  me  over  the  telephone  before  final  acceptance  that 
he  had  reported  my  statement  about  Pinchot  to  the  President, 
and  he  had  said  that  he  did  not  consider  that  any  objection  to 
my  appointment."4 

This  consultation  with  his  closest  advisers  became  Stimson's 
habit  in  all  later  personal  decisions  of  this  sort.  In  this  case  his 
wife  and  his  father  were  the  two  people  nearest  to  him  per- 
sonally; his  partner,  Bronson  Winthrop,  was  the  man  whose 
generous  understanding  of  public  service  was  to  make  possible 
repeated  absences  from  the  law  offices  in  Liberty  Street;  and 
Theodore  Roosevelt  was  the  man  to  whom  he  owed  first 
loyalty  in  matters  of  politics.  The  first  three  gave  the  answer 
they  had  given  in  1906  and  would  give  again  in  other  cases — 
he  must  accept  any  call  to  public  service  which  attracted  him 
as  an  opportunity  for  accomplishment.  The  interview  with 
T.R.,  reaching  the  same  conclusion,  had  a  special  significance. 

"Mrs.  Stimson  and  I  motored  over  to  Sagamore  Hill  to  tell 
him  of  Mr.  Taft's  offer  to  me  of  the  position  of  Secretary  of 
War  and  to  ask  his  advice  in  regard  to  it.  We  found  them  at 
home  in  the  evening  alone  and  had  one  of  the  most  delightful 
visits  that  we  have  ever  had  with  them.  Mr.  Roosevelt  warmly 
and  -strongly  urged  me  by  all  means  to  accept  the  position.  In 
everything  he  said  he  indicated  a  warm  personal  interest  in  my 
welfare.  Mrs.  Stimson  evidenced  a  good  deal  of  reluctance 
about  joining  the  Taf  t  administration  mentioning  how  difficult 
it  would  be  for  her  to  feel  any  great  loyalty  toward  that 

4  Personal  Reminiscences,  1911-1912,  written  March,  1913,  hereafter  called  "Rerjninis- 
cences,  1911-1912." 


administration.  Roosevelt  at  once  said  that  the  question  of 
loyalty  is  settled  'by  Harry's  doing  his  best  in  the  War  Depart- 
ment so  as  to  help  make  Mr.  Taft's  administration  a  success.' 
As  regards  my  interest  he  said  that  he  had  regard  for  my  future 
and  that  it  would  be  much  better  for  me  to  be  spoken  of  as  ex- 
Secretary  of  War  than  merely  as  the  defeated  candidate  for 

"I  went  away  with  the  feeling  that  I  virtually  carried  his 
commission  to  do  my  best  to  make  Mr.  Taft's  administration 
a  success. 

"I  find  this  statement  in  a  letter  from  him,  dated  May  31, 
about  two  weeks  afterwards : 

"  'I  am  more  and  more  pleased  with  your  having  accepted 
the  appointment  and  Gifford  Pinchot  and  Jim  Garfield  feel 
the  same  way.  Both  of  them  are  still  inclined  to  be  entirely  off 
in  matters  political  but  they  are  nothing  like  as  violent  as  they 
were  six  months  ago — one  symptom  is  that  they  now  admit  that 
both  you  and  I  have  a  substratum  of  decency  in  our  composi- 
tion.' "5 

So  on  May  12,  having  received  the  approval  of  all  those 
whose  approval  mattered  most,  Stimson  accepted  Mr.  Taft's 
offer,  and  set  out  to  be  a  loyal  member  of  the  Taf t  administra- 
tion. This  decision  he  never  regretted;  it  had  the  effect  of 
placing  him  in  a  peculiarly  difficult  position  in  the  next  year, 
when  Mr.  Roosevelt  and  Mr.  Taft  became  open  antagonists, 
and  what  he  suffered  in  that  position  we  must  shortly  tell.  But 
it  also  gave  him  two  years  of  service  with  the  United  States 
Army,  an  institution  which  he  devotedly  admired,  and  this 
was  a  preparation  of  enormous  value  for  labors  thirty  years 
later.  And,  of  course,  it  made  him  a  Cabinet  officer  at  the  age 
of  forty-three ;  he  would  have  been  chilly  indeed  if  he  had  not 
felt  as  he  rode  the  train  to  Washington  a  deep  glow  of  pride 
and  a  sense  of  high  challenge. 

The  United  States  Army  in  1911  was  an  organization  of 
4,388  officers  and  70,250  enlisted  men.  About  a  quarter  of  this 
formidable  force  was  on  "foreign  service"  in  American  posses- 
sions— the  Philippines,  Hawaii,  Alaska,  the  Canal  Zone,  and 

5  Reminiscences,  1911-1912. 


Porto  Rico;  the  rest  was  scattered  in  fifty  posts  within  the 
United  States.  It  was  a  profoundly  peaceful  army,  in  a  nation 
which  saw  no  reason  to  suppose  that  there  was  any  probability 
of  war  for  decades,  if  ever.  The  office  of  Secretary  of  War  had 
great  prestige ;  it  had  been  occupied  in  recent  years  by  Elihu 
Root  and  President  Taft.  But  it  would  probably  be  fair  to  say 
that,  so  far  as  his  strictly  military  duties  were  concerned,  the 
Secretary  of  War  was  in  1911  by  a  good  deal  the  least  impor- 
tant officer  in  the  Cabinet — except  in  the  opinion  of  those  few 
who,  like  Stimson  himself,  had  a  lively  interest  in  military 

The  men  deeply  interested  in  the  Army,  in  1911,  may  be 
divided  into  two  categories — those  who  lived  by  it  and  those 
who  lived  for  it.  This  division  may  not  be  scientifically  exact 
or  even  wholly  fair,  but  it  accurately  reflects  the  situation  as 
Stimson  saw  it  after  a  few  months  of  hard  work  and  study. 
The  Army  was  going  through  the  pangs  of  a  long-delayed 
modernization,  and  in  almost  every  issue  before  the  Secretary 
of  War  there  was  a  sharp  division  between  men  who  preferred 
the  old  way — the  way  of  traditional  powers  and  privileges — 
and  men  whose  eyes  were  fixed  on  the  ideal  of  a  modernized 
and  flexible  force,  properly  designed  for  the  fulfillment  of  its 
assignment  as  the  army  of  a  democracy  at  peace. 

The  basic  instrument  for  the  modernization  of  the  Army, 
in  1911,  was  the  General  Staff,  and  it  was  therefore  natural 
that  Stimson's  first  and  most  important  battle  should  have 
been  for  the  protection  of  this  body  and  its  authority.  The 
General  Staff  of  the  American  Army  was  the  creation  of 
Elihu  Root,  and  Stimson  always  ranked  this  achievement  as 
one  of  the  two  or  three  most  important  in  all  the  long  and 
brilliant  career  of  the  ablest  man  he  ever  knew.  The  General 
Staff  was  a  German  invention,  but  Mr.  Root's  adaptation  of 
it  was  designed  to  meet  the  peculiar  problems  of  the  Ameri- 
can Army.  His  General  Staff,  organized  under  a  Chief  of 
Staff  responsible  to  the  Secretary  of  War  and  the  President, 
was  designed  to  meet  three  requirements:  civilian  control  in 
the  executive  branch,  sound  general  planning,  and  constant 
cross-fertilization  between  the  line  of  the  Army  and  its  high 
command  in  Washington.  Failure  to  meet  any  one  of  these 


basic  requirements  after  the  Civil  War  had  made  the  Army 
a  stultified  plaything  of  ambitious  generals  and  their  political 
friends  in  Congress.  By  changing  the  title  of  the  Army's  rank- 
ing officer  from  "Commanding  General"  to  "Chief  of  Staff," 
Root  emphasized  the  principle  of  civilian  control  by  the 
President  as  Commander  in  Chief — the  "Chief  of  Staff"  held 
his  power  as  the  President's  agent,  not  as  an  independent  com- 
mander. By  establishing  his  General  Staff  free  of  routine 
administrative  duties  Root  emphasized  its  basic  function  of 
policy  making.  By  providing  for  limited  terms  of  service  for 
its  members,  he  insured  a  constant  movement  of  officers  from 
the  Staff  to  the  line  and  back.  He  thus  struck  the  first  blow  in 
a  campaign  to  end  forever  the  authority  of  armchair  officers 
who  had  never  commanded  troops,  but  who  knew  their  way 
around  Capitol  Hill.  Ten  years  later  it  fell  to  Stimson  to 
finish  this  particular  job. 

The  Chief  of  Staff  of  the  Army  when  Stimson  became  Sec- 
retary on  May  22,  1911,  was  Major  General  Leonard  Wood. 
This  remarkable  officer  Stimson  held  as  the  finest  soldier  of 
his  acquaintance  until  he  met  another  Chief  of  Staff  thirty 
years  later.  Wood  had  started  as  an  Army  surgeon,  but  his 
energy  and  driving  zest  for  command  had  brought  him  into 
the  line  of  the  Army.  He  had  commanded  the  Rough  Riders 
of  Theodore  Roosevelt,  and  in  Cuba  he  had  won  a  great 
reputation  as  a  colonial  administrator.  Wood  was  imagina- 
tive, relatively  young,  and  as  yet  unhardened  by  the  bitter 
disappointments  which  marked  his  later  career.  He  and  Stim- 
son at  once  became  warm  personal  friends;  they  shared  an 
enthusiasm  for  horses  and  for  hunting ;  together  they  inspected 
Army  camps  in  the  West  and  combined  business  with  pleasure. 
In  Washington  they  fought  together  in  defense  of  the  General 


Their  principal  adversary  was  Major  General  Fred  C.  Ains- 
worth,  the  Adjutant  General.  Ainsworth,  another  doctor,  had 
risen  to  high  office  in  Washington  by  reason  of  his  great  ad- 
ministrative skill  and  his  even  greater  skill  in  dealing  with 
Congressmen.  He  was  a  master  of  paper  work  and  politics,  but 
unfortunately  he  was  greedy  for  power,  and  he  hated  the  whole 
concept  of  the  General  Staff,  just  as  he  disapproved  of  all  the 


ideas  for  Army  reform  which  attracted  the  sympathetic  sup- 
port of  Stimson  and  Wood.  The  Adjutant  General  in  law  and 
principle  was  subordinate  to  the  Chief  of  Staff,  but  in  practice 
Ainsworth  had  been  able  to  preserve  his  authority  under 
Wood's  predecessors ;  in  some  respects,  because  of  his  influence 
with  Congressmen,  he  had  been  the  most  powerful  officer  in 
the  War  Department.  Wood,  taking  office  in  1910,  set  out  to 
become  master  in  his  own  house. 

When  Stimson  arrived  in  Washington,  Wood  and  Ains- 
worth were  already  at  loggerheads;  as  an  incident  of  their 
conflict,  there  was  in  session  a  board  of  officers  (headed  by 
Ainsworth  himself)  to  study  the  administrative  procedures 
of  the  War  Department.  This  apparently  harmless  subject 
was  full  of  explosive  possibilities,  for  Ainsworth  regarded 
himself  as  the  high  priest  of  Army  administration,  and  any 
opinion  contrary  to  his  own  would  not  be  well  received.  Late 
in  1911,  the  board  of  officers  reported;  the  minority  report 
recommended  the  abolition  of  the  bimonthly  muster  roll.  This 
was  a  radical  recommendation,  for  the  muster  roll  was  the 
Army's  basic  administrative  record.  But  the  minority  report 
was  approved  by  Wood  and  then  by  Stimson ;  they  believed 
that  the  new  methods  would  give  fully  satisfactory  results  and 
save  much  time.  Ainsworth  did  not  agree,  and  on  February 
9,  1912,  after  a  six- week  delay,  he  submitted  his  views  to  Wood 
in  a  memorandum  so  grossly  insubordinate  that  as  soon  as  he 
read  it  Stimson  realized  that  the  time  for  drastic  action  had 
come.  Once  before  he  had  been  forced  to  warn  Ainsworth 
against  insubordination.  Now  in  a  bitter  outburst  against  "in- 
competent amateurs"  Ainsworth  laid  down  a  challenge  which 
could  not  be  ignored.  The  memorandum  went  so  far  as  to  im- 
pugn the  honor  and  good  faith  of  any  who  would  tamper  with 
the  muster  roll. 

"I  glanced  at  it  [Ainsworth's  memorandum]  and  at  once 
seeing  its  character  directed  Wood  to  turn  it  over  to  me  and 
to  pay  no  further  attention  to  it.  I  told  him  I  would  attend  to 
it  myself  and  for  him  to  keep  his  mouth  shut. 

"The  only  member  of  the  Department  whom  I  consulted 
was  Crowder,  Judge  Advocate  General.  I  asked  him  to  read 
the  memorandum  and  advise  me  what  disciplinary  measures 


the  law  allowed.  He  came  to  my  house  and  we  discussed  it.  He 
suggested  two  ways  of  treating  it,  one  by  administrative  pun- 
ishment and  the  other  by  court-martial.  He  himself  started  to 
recommend  the  administrative  punishment.  I  told  him  no,  that 
I  intended  to  court-martial  him.  ...  I  told  him  I  proposed 
to  find  out  whether  the  Army  was  ready  to  stand  for  the  kind 
of  language  that  General  Ainsworth  had  used  as  proper 
language  for  a  subordinate  to  use  to  a  superior.  I  intended  to 
put  it  up  to  the  general  officers  of  the  Army  to  say  whether 
that  was  proper  or  not.  I  told  him  also  that  I  preferred  to  use 
a  big  gun  rather  than  a  little  gun.  When  I  had  to  deal  a  blow, 
I  believed  in  striking  hard.  He  loyally  acquiesced  in  my 
decision  and  under  my  direction  at  once  commenced  the 
formulation  of  charges  and  selection  of  a  court.  I  also  con- 
sulted the  President  and  Mr.  Root.  Both  concurred  with  me 
in  thinking  that  a  court-martial  should  be  ordered.  The  Presi- 
dent said  to  me:  'Stimson,  it  has  fallen  to  you  to  do  a  dirty 
job  which  your  predecessors  ought  to  have  done  before  you.' 

"Root  said  that  when  a  man  pulls  your  nose  there  is  nothing 
to  be  done  but  to  hit  him.  .  .  . 

"I  concluded  .  .  .  that  a  measure  of  discipline  must  be 
taken  at  once  if  at  all  and  I  therefore  relieved  Ainsworth  as 
soon  as  the  paper  could  be  prepared. 

"As  soon  as  he  was  relieved,  telegrams  were  sent  to  a  num- 
ber of  retired  general  officers  in  various  parts  of  the  country, 
asking  them  if  they  would  serve  on  a  court-martial  which  the 
President  was  about  to  call.  We  had  to  call  upon  retired  officers 
because  there  were  no  others  of  rank  equal  to  that  of  the 
defendant.  Knowing  Ainsworth's  reputation  as  a  fighter,  I 
rather  expected  that  he  would  stand  trial,  although  I  realized 
from  my  previous  experience  as  District  Attorney  how  much 
greater  that  responsibility  would  appear  to  him  than  it  would 
to  an  outsider.  I  think  I  had  rather  brighter  hopes  than  the 
average  officers  around  me  that  Ainsworth  might  lie  down, 
but  I  recognized  that  it  was  a  good  deal  of  a  gamble. 

"Next  day  we  were  sitting  in  Cabinet  meeting,  when  the 
messenger  brought  word  that  Senator  Warren  wanted  to  see 
the  President  on  a  very  important  matter.  The  President 
stepped  out,  was  gone  a  few  minutes,  and  came  back  and  said 


to  me  'Ainsworth  wants  to  retire.  How  is  it?  Good  riddance?' 
I  said  'Yes,  Mr.  President,  provided  it  is  done  at  once  and 
provided  he  apologizes.'  He  stepped  out  again  and  in  the 
interval  I  got  Root  on  the  telephone  at  the  Senate,  told  him 
that  Ainsworth  proposed  to  surrender  and  retire  and  asked 
his  advice  as  to  whether  I  should  accept  it.  He  said,  'By  all 
means;  best  possible  result.5 

aThe  President  came  back  again  and  said,  'He  will  get  right 
out  but  he  will  not  apologize.'  I  said,  'I  think  you  had  better 
let  him  get  out;  we  will  waive  the  apology.'  I  stepped  into  the 
President's  room  with  him  that  time  and  saw  Warren,  who 
had  brought  the  message.  I  told  him  that  I  thought  he  had 
done  a  good  piece  of  work  for  the  Army.  He  told  me  that  he 
had  had  difficulty  in  getting  Ainsworth  to  agree  to  retire ;  that 
Ainsworth  wanted  to  fight,  but  that  his  friends  advised  him 
not  to  run  the  risk. 

"As  far  as  Ainsworth's  reputation  in  the  Army  was  con- 
cerned, his  retirement  under  fire  greatly  injured  it.  Many 
officers  have  since  said  to  me  Why,  we  always  thought  that 
he  was  a  fighting  man,  but  we  have  had  no  use  for  him  since 
he  crawled.'  His  retirement  then  simplified  matters  in  the 
Department.  .  .  .  Before  I  left  office  in  March,  1913,  .  .  . 
very  important  reforms  in  the  methods  of  administration  were 
well  under  way,  reforms  which  had  been  perfectly  impossible 
to  accomplish  when  General  Ainsworth  was  present.  But  more 
than  that,  it  enabled  the  department  to  work  as  a  harmonious 
team  and  it  dealt  a  death  blow  to  the  idea  that  any  one  mem- 
ber of  that  team  could  run  his  office  for  his  own  personal 

The  relief  of  Ainsworth  was  a  vital  victory  for  the  whole 
concept  of  the  General  Staff.  It  insured  the  power  of  the  Chief 
of  Staff  against  all  bureau  chiefs,  and  in  this  sense  it  expanded 
his  power  far  beyond  that  of  the  commanding  generals  of 
former  days.  It  also  asserted  and  defined  the  duty  of  the  Presi- 
dent and  the  Secretary  of  War  under  the  new  system — they 
might  have  any  Chief  of  Staff  they  desired,  but  they  must 
support  the  officer  of  their  choice.  There  have  been  struggles 
for  power  and  personal  feuds  in  the  War  Department  since 
1912,  and  there  are  still  many  matters  of  tradition  over  which 

6  Reminiscences,  1911-1912. 


the  wise  man  does  not  ride  roughshod,  but  since  the  relief  of 
Ainsworth  no  important  challenge  has  been  given  to  the  final 
authority  of  the  Chief  of  Staff,  under  the  Secretary  and  the 
President.  Even  the  great  Pershing,  field  commander  of  the 
entire  fighting  Army  in  1918,  learned  that  in  the  making  of 
long-range  decisions  he  was  subordinate  to  the  Chief  of  Staff 
in  Washington. 

But  if  the  relief  of  Ainsworth  set  a  fine  precedent,  and  won- 
derfully clarified  the  situation  inside  the  War  Department, 
it  did  not  help  Stimson  and  Wood  one  bit  with  their  second 
great  difficulty — relations  with  Congress.  Ainsworth  had  two 
powerful  friends  in  key  positions — Representative  Hay,  Demo- 
crat, the  chairman  of  the  House  Committee  on  Military  Af- 
fairs, and  Senator  Warren,  Republican,  chairman  of  the 
parallel  committee  in  the  Senate.  The  alliance  between  Army 
bureaucrats  and  influential  Congressmen  was  useful  to  both 
sides;  Ainsworth's  promotions  had  come  mainly  by  congres- 
sional fiat,  while  Army  appropriations  for  post  construction, 
river  and  harbor  work,  and  other  undertakings  could  be  and 
were  distributed  as  political  rather  than  strategic  purposes 
dictated.  Thus  the  relief  of  Ainsworth  was  more  than  a  per- 
sonal affront  to  his  congressional  friends ;  it  was  a  direct  chal- 
lenge to  the  whole  concept  of  congressional  government — it 
asserted  the  national  interest  and  the  authority  of  the  execu- 
tive branch  against  the  parochial  pork  barrel  and  the  authority 
of  Congress.  For  their  audacity  in  this  attack  on  congressional 
power,  Stimson  and  Wood  paid  the  price  of  constant  conflict. 
But  by  continued  boldness  they  were  able  to  hold  their  own. 
When  a  conference  committee  of  Congress  put  a  rider  into 
the  Army  Appropriation  Bill  which  would  have  disqualified 
Wood  for  service  as  Chief  of  Staff,  Stimson  wrote  and  Presi- 
dent Taft  signed  a  stinging  veto,  and  the  country  applauded. 
The  congressional  plotters,  placed  on  the  defensive — much  to 
their  surprise,  for  they  had  not  supposed  that  the  President 
would  run  the  risk  of  leaving  his  soldiers  unpaid — were  forced 
to  repass  the  bill  without  the  offensive  clause.  In  this  affair  as 
in  others  President  Taft  showed  clearly  both  his  reluctance 
to  fight  and  his  essential  courage  in  a  pinch.  He  tried  hard  to 
believe  that  an  amended  rider  would  not  disqualify  Wood,  but 


Stimson  got  a  direct  admission  of  his  purpose  from  Repre- 
sentative Hay,  who  was  an  honest  man,  and  the  President  at 
once  promised  a  second  veto,  even  though  the  support  of 
Senator  Warren  seemed  essential  to  his  success  in  the  approach- 
ing Republican  Convention  at  Chicago.  He  was  on  solid 
ground ;  Warren  and  Hay  yielded,  and  whatever  political  ad- 
vantage there  was  in  the  matter  accrued  to  the  President.  And 
the  Army  did  not  go  unpaid,  for  while  the  legislators  were 
removing  their  monkey  wrench,  they  continued  by  joint 
resolution  the  appropriations  of  the  previous  year.  This  expe- 
rience gave  Stimson  a  lifelong  belief  that  the  way  to  deal  with 
congressional  riders  is  to  veto  the  whole  bill  and  let  public 
opinion  take  its  angry  and  accurate  course. 

The  issue  of  authority  was  thus  settled,  in  principle;  in 
practice,  however,  substantial  power  remained  with  Congress, 
through  its  control  of  appropriations.  It  was  not  always  neces- 
sary for  the  legislators  to  resort  to  flagrantly  unjustified  riders, 
and  as  the  administration  lacked  a  disciplined  majority — or 
indeed  any  majority  at  all  in  the  House  of  Representatives — 
Stimson  was  not  able  to  secure  approval  of  such  ardently 
advocated  reforms  as  the  consolidation  of  the  numerous  small 
posts  into  a  few  large  ones,  strategically  located  with  an  eye 
to  climate  and  training  facilities.  Nor  was  he  able  to  prevent 
a  cut  in  the  appropriations  for  the  General  Staff,  which  did  not 
become  an  unchallenged  and  fully  honored  institution  until 
after  World  War  I.  Under  heavy  prodding  Congress  accepted 
his  principle  of  an  organized  reserve,  into  which  all  regulars 
should  pass  after  completing  their  enlistment,  but  the  principle 
was  so  hedged  with  reservations  that  after  two  years  only 
sixteen  names  appeared  on  the  reserve  roster.  In  summary, 
Stimson  was  able  to  defend  the  Army  against  Congress,  but 
not  to  use  the  congressional  power  as  an  agent  of  constructive 

Fortunately  there  remained  a  considerable  outlet  for  his 
energy  in  the  executive  authority  of  the  Secretary,  and  the 
outstanding  advance  of  his  term  as  Secretary  of  War  was 
made  as  a  purely  executive  decision.  This  was  the  tactical  or- 
ganization of  the  Army  inside  the  United  States.  Prior  to 
1912,  units  of  infantry,  cavalry,  artillery,  and  coast  artillery 


were  commanded  by  the  senior  administrative  officer  of  each 
area,  without  any  regard  for  their  tactical  grouping  in  the 
event  of  war.  This  meant  that  a  brigadier  general  might  have 
under  his  command  several  companies  of  immovable  coast 
artillery  troops,  a  battalion  or  two  of  infantry,  and  a  cavalry 
squadron.  Yet  these  scattered  infantry  and  cavalry  units  were 
the  only  mobile  tactical  force  in  the  country,  and  in  the  event 
of  a  crisis  they  would  be  the  field  force  of  the  Army.  What 
Stimson  and  Wood  did  has  in  retrospect  the  simple  logic  of 
elementary  prudence;  they  ordered  a  reorganization  under 
which  the  command  of  units  corresponded  with  their  probable 
tactical  employment  in  the  event  of  emergency — infantry  divi- 
sions were  organized  and  commanders  named.  The  troops  could 
not  be  brought  together  in  one  place,  for  lack  of  money,  but  at 
least  on  paper  the  Army  was  given  an  organization  suit- 
able for  quick  action.  The  result  was  that  in  early  1913,  when 
there  was  an  alarm  along  the  Mexican  border,  a  single  order 
from  Washington  was  sufficient  to  concentrate  a  division  of 
field  service  troops  at  Galveston,  Texas.  Before  the  reorganiza- 
tion the  same  result  could  have  been  achieved  only  by  hun- 
dreds of  orders  and  the  ad  hoc  construction  of  an  entirely  new 
command.  Yet  this  elementary  application  of  military  common 
sense  was  accepted  by  the  line  of  the  Army  only  after  a  pro- 
longed and  carefully  organized  series  of  deliberations,  includ- 
ing a  conference  at  Washington  of  every  active  general  officer 
in  the  Army. 

The  Army  of  1912  was  slowly  awakening  after  a  slumber 
of  nearly  fifty  years  which  had  been  only  briefly  disturbed  by 
the  absurd  confusion  of  the  Spanish  war.  Men  like  Root  and 
Stimson,  learning  to  follow  the  principles  and  recommenda- 
tions of  a  small  group  of  devoted  and  progressive  officers, 
found  themselves  confronted  by  the  vast  inertia  of  somnolent 
inbreeding.  The  Army,  as  progressive  officers  understood  it, 
was  a  small  nucleus  of  professionals  who  must  be  organized 
and  prepared  to  do  two  things :  to  fight  at  once  in  case  of  war 
and — almost  more  important — to  expand  indefinitely  by  en- 
rolling citizen  soldiers.  Wood  and  Stimson  had  no  patience 
with  the  notion  that  it  took  three  years  to  make  a  soldier — 
Wood  insisted  he  could  do  it  in  six  months,  and  five  years  later 


he  proved  his  point  by  producing  the  magnificent  Sgth  Divi- 
sion of  the  National  Army.  What  he  and  Stimson  envisioned 
in  1912  was  a  small  but  highly  trained  Army,  concentrated  in 
eight  large  posts  where  training  in  the  combined  arms  could 
be  carried  out,  with  short  enlistments  and  a  heavy  turnover, 
so  that  military  skills  might  be  diffused  through  an  increas- 
ing proportion  of  the  population.  It  was  from  Wood  that 
Stimson  first  learned  to  think  of  the  Regular  Army  as  a 
focus  of  professional  skill  from  which  military  training  might 
be  given  to  all  the  nation's  manhood.  Wood  understood  the 
Army;  he  also  knew  how  to  interpret  the  Army  to  civilians, 
and  he  knew  how  to  make  and  honor  good  civilian  soldiers. 
To  the  men  who  thought  of  the  Army  as  a  small  and  select 
club,  the  men  who  regarded  military  skill  as  a  sacerdotal  se- 
cret imparted  only  at  West  Point,  all  of  Wood's  preaching 
was  dangerous  nonsense.  The  Old  Guard  of  the  Army,  rein- 
forced by  the  Old  Guard  of  the  Military  Affairs  Committees, 
wanted  long  enlistments,  no  reserves,  no  planning,  and  a  wel- 
ter of  small  and  expensive  posts;  above  all,  they  wanted  not 
to  be  disturbed.  As  he  looked  back  in  1947,  amazed  that  there 
should  have  been  issues  so  bitter  on  points  so  obvious,  and  yet 
remembering  the  power  and  skill  of  the  opposition  he  and 
Wood  had  faced,  Stimson  was  at  a  loss  to  decide  whether  he 
had  accomplished  wonders  or  done  far,  far  less  than  he  should. 
Probably  the  right  answer  was  a  little  of  both. 

Whatever  else  it  was,  his  service  with  the  Army  was  great 
fun.  The  Regular  Army  officer,  except  in  his  most  reactionary 
form,  was  a  man  whom  Stimson  quickly  understood  and  with 
whom  he  felt  a  natural  sympathy.  The  code  of  the  officer  and 
gentleman  was  his  own  code,  and  he  fully  shared  the  enthu- 
siasm of  most  officers  for  the  out-of-doors.  During  this  first 
term  as  Secretary  of  War  he  made  scores  of  friends  in  the 
Army,  and  he  kept  meeting  them  at  later  stages  of  his  life. 
Some  were  the  colleagues  of  his  reforms  at  this  time ;  others 
were  men  who  gave  him  comradeship  and  guidance  in  World 
War  I.  Still  others,  like  Leonard  Wood  and  Frank  R.  McCoy, 
were  friends  and  co-workers  not  only  in  1911  but  in  many 
later  events.  And  two  of  his  young  aides  of  the  time  were  men 
whose  later  careers  he  watched  with  great  affection  and  ad- 


miration.  Between  them  Lieutenants  George  S.  Patton  and 
John  C.  H.  Lee  carried  a  total  of  seven  stars  in  World  War 

The  Secretary  of  War  in  1911  was  also  in  effect  the  Secre- 
tary of  the  Insular  Possessions  and  to  a  large  degree  the  Sec- 
retary of  Public  Works.  Stimson  thus  found  himself  responsi- 
ble for  the  continued  construction  of  the  Panama  Canal,  the 
administration  of  the  Philippines  and  Porto  Rico,  and  for 
important  decisions  on  harbor  development,  river  engineering, 
and  the  use  of  water  power.  His  responsibility  for  the  pos- 
sessions need  not  here  detain  us;  given  such  administrators  as 
George  W.  Goethals  in  Panama  and  Cameron  Forbes  in  the 
Philippines,  Stimson  found  it  necessary  only  to  be  sure  that 
the  War  Department  gave  them  its  full  support.  In  observing 
their  work,  and  particularly  in  two  visits  to  the  Caribbean 
and  the  Canal,  he  formed  lasting  opinions  about  the  nature  of 
the  American  commitment  in  the  areas  acquired  after  the 
Spanish  war;  he  became  a  believer,  not  in  manifest  destiny, 
but  in  American  responsibility  for  the  welfare  of  these  new 
possessions,  and  fifteen  years  later  he  responded  quickly 
to  a  chance  to  play  his  part  first  in  Central  America  and  then 
in  the  Philippines.  But  between  1911  and  1913  these  areas 
were  placid,  and  they  posed  no  major  problems.7 

In  the  field  of  public  works  the  situation  was  different. 
Here  there  was  posed  a  neat  problem  of  constitutional  law 
and  governmental  authority  which  plainly  demonstrated  Stim- 
son's  basic  attitude  toward  the  powers  of  the  National  Govern- 
ment. The  problem  was  in  the  control  and  regulation  of  water 
power  in  navigable  streams,  for  which  Stimson  assumed 
responsibility  when  he  became  Secretary  of  War. 

7  In  one  issue  affecting  the  Panama  Canal,  Stimson  took  a  stand  which  he  later 
regretted.  Under  the  Hay-Pauncefote  Treaty  with  Great  Britain,  the  United  States 
agreed  to  charge  equal  tolls  on  ships  of  all  nations  using  the  Canal.  In  spite  of  this 
agreement,  Stimson  joined  with  President  Taft  and  others  who  argued  that  it  would 
be  legitimate  to  remit  the  tolls  on  American  coastwise  vessels.  The  argument  was  that 
the  right  of  subsidy  was  unquestioned,  and  that  remission  of  tolls  was  merely  a  form 
of  subsidy.  In  later  years  Stimson  found  this  rather  legalistic  argument  quite  insuf- 
ficient to  outweigh  the  evident  fact  that  remission  of  tolls  seemed  a  breach  of  faith  to 
the  British  and  to  such  Americans  as  Elihu  Root,  and  he  was  glad  that  Woodrow 
Wilson  reversed  the  position  which  he  had  shared  as  Secretary  of  War. 


The  specific  issue  posed  in  1912  was  between  those  who 
denied  any  federal  power  to  exact  compensation  for  leases  of 
water-power  sites  on  navigable  streams  and  those,  like  Stim- 
son,  who  asserted  that  the  federal  power  extended  to  this  point 
and  well  beyond,  under  the  commerce  clause  of  the  Constitu- 
tion. On  one  side  of  the  issue  were  those  who  genuinely  disap- 
proved the  notion  of  federal  regulation,  and  they  were  joined 
by  the  usual  corporations  whose  pocketbook  might  feel  the 
pinch  of  any  federal  supervision.  These  forces  commanded  a 
majority  of  Congress  in  opposition  to  any  new  assertion  of 
national  authority.  On  the  other  side  were  the  conservationists 
— men  whose  central  argument  was  that  water  power,  as  a 
basic  national  asset,  should  not  be  freely  turned  over  to  exploi- 
tation by  private  interests.  The  issue  was  first  brought  to  Stim- 
son's  attention  by  friends  like  Gifford  Pinchot  well  before  he 
became  Secretary  of  War,  but  it  was  only  after  he  had  been 
some  months  in  Washington  that  he  began  to  give  the  matter 
close  study.  This  study  produced  an  interesting  result. 

Abstractly,  the  position  of  his  conservationist  friends  was 
the  position  Stimson  liked.  He  believed  that  the  national  inter- 
est in  national  resources  should  be  asserted.  But  concretely, 
he  was  dealing  with  a  question  of  constitutional  law,  and,  more 
important  still,  with  a  President  who  tended  to  be  a  strict 
constructionist.  Mr.  Taft  himself  was  a  believer  in  conserva- 
tion, but  he  was  also  a  careful  lawyer  with  the  lawyer's  respect 
for  procedure  and  authority.  It  thus  became  necessary  for 
Stimson  to  prove  to  the  President  that  the  constitutional  power 
over  commerce  did  in  fact  extend  to  include  charging  fees 
for  dam-site  leases.  In  order  to  accomplish  this  purpose  Stim- 
son collected  a  large  body  of  information  proving  that  in  most 
cases  dams  were  important  not  only  as  they  might  obstruct 
navigation,  but  as  they  might  assist  it ;  this  point  was  of  critical 
importance  because  it  gave  the  Federal  Government  an  interest 
not  only  in  controlling  dam  construction  but  in  promoting  it, 
and  thus  the  construction  of  dams  became  a  legitimate  Govern- 
ment function.  But  if  it  was  proper  for  the  Government  to 
build  dams,  it  was  clearly  proper  for  the  Government  to  make 
any  contract  it  chose  with  private  dam-builders,  and  therefore 
it  was  entirely  constitutional  for  the  Government  to  exact 


payment  for  its  leases  of  water-power  sites.  This  rather  tech- 
nical and  complex  argument  was  effective  with  President 
Taft,  and  in  his  veto  of  the  so-called  Coosa  River  Bill  (a  veto 
written  by  Stimson)  he  asserted  very  plainly  the  doctrine  of 
federal  authority  over  water  power  in  navigable  streams.  A 
year  later,  in  a  notable  opinion,  the  Supreme  Court  upheld 
the  same  doctrine,  and  on  even  broader  grounds.8 

T^he  principle  thus  asserted  marked  the  beginning  of  an 
interest  in  water  power  and  public  utilities  which  Stimson 
maintained  for  thirty  years.  After  leaving  office  in  1913,  he 
continued  his  work  with  Pinchot  and  others  for  the  advance- 
ment of  the  idea  of  federal  control  and  regulation.  At  the  same 
time  he  remained  a  strong  believer  in  the  private  operation  of 
public  utilities,  and  after  World  War  I,  as  lawyer  and 
investor,  he  had  an  active  part  in  the  building  of  one  of  the 
most  successful  of  all  the  great  private  utility  companies.  Thus 
in  the  1930*8  when  another  Roosevelt  undertook  the  great 
experiment  of  the  Tennessee  Valley  Authority,  Stimson 
approached  the  problem  with  mixed  feelings.  On  the  one 
hand,  as  a  private  investor  and  a  believer  in  private  enterprise, 
he  was  opposed  to  Government  operation  and  even  questioned 
the  constitutionality  of  TVA.  On  the  other  hand,  as  a  conserva- 
tionist and  a  believer  in  the  federal  power  to  build  dams  and 
control  water  power,  he  was  unable  to  feel  that  TVA  was  all 
wrong,  and  to  one  of  the  lawyers  opposing  the  TVA  as  uncon- 
stitutional he  remarked  that  'if  you  are  going  to  defeat  this 
great  public  undertaking  you  must  find  some  better  argument 
than  the  foresight  of  James  Madison.'  His  basic  opposition  to 
TVA  was  grounded  in  the  belief  that  Government  enterprise, 
could  not  be  kept  free  of  the  spoils  system  and  political 
patronage,  but  by  1947  it  seemed  clear  that  this  belief  in  this 
case  had  been  unfounded.  He  remained  persuaded  that  the 
competition  in  power  rates  offered  by  the  TVA,  which  paid 
no  dividends,  no  interest  charges,  and  no  federal  taxes,  was 
unfair,  but  this  was  essentially  a  problem  of  bookkeeping.  In 
any  case  TVA  was  here  to  stay,  and  he  had  learned  in  1912  that 
the  principle  of  planned  and  co-ordinated  river  development 
was  a  sound  one.  By  1947  he  was  prepared  to  admit — perhaps 

8  United  States  vs.  Chandler-Dunbar  Water  Power  Co.  et.  al.t  229  U.S.  53- 


even  to  claim — what  he  had  denied  in  1935,  that  the  principle 
of  TVA,  as  an  adventure  in  the  effective  use  of  national  re- 
sources, was  a  direct  outgrowth  of  the  position  he  and  other 
conservationists  had  taken  back  in  1912. 

President  Taft,  as  T.R.'s  Secretary  of  War,  had  been  the 
roving  member  of  the  Cabinet,  a  sort  of  political  factotum 
whom  the  President  used  for  many  jobs  outside  his  Depart- 
ment. This  experience  guided  him  in  his  own  Cabinet  practice, 
and  during  Stimson's  two  years  in  Washington  he  was  often 
assigned  to  jobs  which  fell  outside  his  departmental  domain. 
His  first  service  after  his  appointment — even  before  he  was 
sworn  in — was  the  delivery  of  a  speech  on  the  President's 
favorite  reciprocity  agreement  with  Canada.  This  was  a  con- 
genial labor,  for  it  was  one  of  the  few  chances  Stimson  ever  had 
as  a  Republican  spokesman  to  uphold  the  principle  of  tariff 
reduction.  And  indeed  most  of  his  work  of  this  kind  during  his 
first  ten  months  was  work  he  liked — he  was  interested  in  many 
national  issues,  and  in  the  greatest  of  all,  the  fight  for  unity  in 
the  Republican  party,  his  interest  was  personal  and  intense. 

Mr.  Taft  used  his  Cabinet  more  freely  and  fully  as  a  group 
of  general  counselors  than  did  any  of  the  later  presidents  with 
whom  Stimson  served,  possibly  excepting  Mr.  Truman.  His 
Cabinet  meetings  were  repeatedly  the  scene  of  vigorous  dis- 
cussion of  major  decisions  of  policy,  and  in  these  meetings 
Stimson  found  himself  more  often  than  not  in  a  minority.  He 
and  Walter  Fisher  represented  a  sort  of  liberal  wing  of  the 
Cabinet,  and,  although  the  President  always  listened  with 
good  will  and  was  himself  not  basically  averse  to  their  ideas, 
he  generally  avoided  decisive  support  of  their  position. 

A  typical  issue  of  1911,  and  one  which  assumed  a  peculiar 
and  bitter  significance  because  of  its  connection  with  Theodore 
Roosevelt,  was  the  question  of  Government  policy  toward  the 
trusts.  This  was  a  subject  to  which  Stimson  had  given  con- 
siderable thought  during  his  work  as  a  Government  prosecutor. 
He  emerged  with  a  dual  conviction — first,  that  effective 
federal  regulation  of  large  corporations  in  interstate  com- 
merce was  absolutely  essential,  and  second,  that  what  Joseph 
H.  Choate  called  "government  by  indictment"  was  a  most 
unsatisfactory  method  of  arriving  at  this  goal.  Time  after  time 


businessmen  of  high  character  and  evident  good  will  had  come 
into  the  United  States  Attorney's  office  in  New  York  to  plead 
for  a  clarification  of  Government  policy;  they  wished  to  obey 
the  law,  but  the  very  general  language  of  the  Sherman  anti- 
trust law  made  it  almost  impossible  for  them  to  know  what  was 
and  was  not  permissible.  And  Stimson  as  a  district  attorney 
was  quite  unable  to  give  them  any  assurance  of  protection. 
His  own  policy  was  to  refrain  from  antitrust  prosecutions  un- 
less he  had  clear  evidence  of  flagrantly  unfair  practices  and 
purposes,  but  he  could  not  fix  Government  policy  on  com- 
binations in  restraint  of  trade,  nor  could  he  bind  his  successors 
or  his  colleagues  in  other  districts.  It  also  became  clear  to  him 
that  the  blunt  weapon  of  prosecution  was  wholly  inadequate 
to  protect  the  public  interest — it  included  no  provision  for  a 
constant  flow  of  accurate  information  upon  which  Govern- 
ment policy  could  be  based.  Both  the  public  interest  and  the 
selfish  interest  of  honorable  businessmen  required  a  more  care- 
ful statement  of  the  law  governing  competition  and  a  more 
flexible  instrument  for  federal  supervision  of  business  practice. 

This  position  Stimson  first  urged  on  the  President  in  early 
November,  1911,  asking  him  to  read  a  proposed  speech  on  the 
subject.  Mr.  Taft  "at  first  said,  'All  right,  go  ahead;  it  will 
be  all  right  whatever  you  say.'  "9  Stimson,  however,  insisted 
that  the  President  read  his  speech  with  care,  and  when  the 
President  had  done  so,  he  asked  Stimson  not  to  deliver  the 
speech,  at  least  for  the  time  being. 

Once  again,  Mr.  Taft  was  torn  between  two  counsels — on 
the  one  hand  were  men  like  Stimson,  arguing  as  Theodore 
Roosevelt  argued ;  on  the  other  side  were  such  men  as  Attor- 
ney General  Wickersham,  strong  believers  in  the  Sherman 
Act  and  in  the  sufficiency  of  a  policy  of  energetic  prosecution 
under  that  law.  The  President  in  the  end  adopted  both  posi- 
tions, and  in  his  message  to  Congress  in  December,  1911,  he 
combined  a  defense  of  the  Sherman  Act  with  recommenda- 
tions along  the  lines  Stimson  had  advocated,  "but  these  propo- 
sitions came  in  the  last  two  pages  of  the  message  and  were 
subordinated  to  about  eight  or  ten  pages  in  defense  of  the 
Sherman  law  .  .  .  and  as  Root  afterwards  expressed  it  to  me 

9  Reminiscences,   1911-1912 


no  one  really  knows  what  the  President's  position  on  the  trust 
question  is."10 

The  President's  compromise  decision  of  December  had  the 
incidental  effect  of  freeing  Stimson  to  make  his  long-planned 
speech.  This  speech  deserves  brief  quotation  because  it  dem- 
onstrates a  position  which  Stimson  firmly  believed  to  be  the 
proper  Republican  doctrine  of  the  time: 

"We  need  not  deceive  ourselves  with  the  idle  dream  that 
our  virile  American  democracy  will  permit  the  prices  of  the 
things  it  buys  to  be  controlled  by  a  monopoly  which  is  beyond 
the  reach  of  the  hand  of  its  Government. 

"If  therefore  we  are  unwilling  to  accept  state  regulation  of 
prices,  we  must  accept  the  only  other  regulation  which  is  pos- 
sible— that  of  competition,  actual  or  potential.  .  .  .  The  public 
will  have  no  reason  to  fear  oppressive  prices  provided  the 
field  is  kept  free  for  new  -competing  capital  to  come  in  when- 
ever the  prices  in  that  field  are  sufficient  to  tempt  it.  The  ave- 
nues by  which  the  new  capital  can  come  in  must  be  kept  open. 
The  rules  of  the  game  must  be  such  as  to  prevent  a  new  and 
smaller  competitor  from  being  driven  out  of  the  field  by  an 
older  and  a  larger  one.  The  old  rules  of  fair  play  in  trade 
under  the  common  law  are  no  longer  adequate.  The  entry  of 
large  business  into  the  game  has  made  necessary  some  changes 
in  rules  which  were  sufficient  so  long  as  the  size  of  competitors 
was  approximately  equal.  . . . 

"The  various  forms  of  so-called  cutthroat  competition ;  boy- 
cotting competitors  by  compelling  customers  not  to  trade  with 
them;  so-called  factors'  agreements;  interfering  with  the  con- 
tracts of  competitors  by  threats  or  fraud ;  setting  up  fictitious 
independents;  favoritism  in  giving  credit;  and  general  dis- 
criminations among  customers — all  of  these  methods  by  which 
can  be  recognized  the  illegal  purpose  of  crushing  out  a  com- 
petitor and  controlling  the  market  heretofore  shared  with 
him  should  be  carefully  defined  and  punished. 

"This  is  the  first  great  piece  of  constructive  work  that  our 
situation  seems  to  me  to  require.  .  .  . 

"But  I  believe  there  is  a  second  and  even  more  important 
step  to  be  taken.  Thus  far  the  function  of  the  Government 

10  Reminiscences,  1911-1912. 


which  we  have  discussed  has  been  purely  negative;  it  has 
merely  said  'Thou  shalt  not.'  I  believe  that  the  time  has  come 
for  the  exercise  of  its  affirmative  powers.  .  .  . 

"The  criminal  provisions  of  the  law  should  be  supple- 
mented by  legislation  which  will  establish  an  administrative 
bureau  for  the  permanent,  continuous,  and  watchful  oversight 
of  corporate  business  engaged  in  interstate  commerce — legis- 
lation which  will  give  stability  to  such  legitimate  business  and 
at  the  same  time  safeguard  the  just  interests  of  the  public. 
Such  a  bureau  would  become  an  assistance  and  safeguard  to 
the  honest  businessman  and  yet  at  the  same  time  make  the  law 
vastly  more  effective  against  the  other  kind.  It  could  collect 
a  large  amount  of  information  which  would  be  of  inestimable 
service  in  informing  the  business  community  as  to  what  the 
law  meant;  at  the  same  time,  it  could  furnish  Congress  similar 
information  for  the  purpose  of  perfecting  future  legislation, 
and  would  bring  to  the  side  of  the  public  the  tremendous 
power  of  publicity.  .  .  . 

"It  is  folly  to  accuse  such  a  system  of  being  too  inquisitorial. 
That  objection  generally  comes  from  the  men  who  desire  no 
regulation  whatever."11 

The  speech  concluded  with  a  statement  which  represented, 
in  1911  and  in  1947,  Stimson's  basic  view  of  the  problem  of 
government  and  business: 

"We  are  engaged  in  learning;  and  while  we  are  inflexible  in 
our  resolution  that  the  interest  of  the  public  must  dominate 
the  situation,  we  realize  more  fully  than  before  that  the  in- 
terest of  the  public  is  inextricably  bound  up  in  the  welfare  of 
our  business.  The  best  minds  can  see  only  a  comparatively 
short  distance  into  the  future  and  but  inadequately  under- 
stand the  great  forces  of  modern  society  now  at  work.  What 
we  should  attempt  is  to  direct  these  forces  toward  a  just  indus- 
trial system,  leaving  full  play  to  individual  initiative  and 
full  scope  for  individual  reward,  but  at  all  hazards  to  secure 
social  and  industrial  freedom  to  the  great  mass  of  the  people." 

This  address  of  December,  1911,  is  important  as  a  part  of 
Stimson's  life  and  a  basic  statement  of  his  carefully  deliber- 
ated opinions.  It  has  interest  too  in  the  striking  resemblance 

11  Address  to  the  Republican  Club  of  New  York  City,  December  15,  1911. 


between  Stimson's  program  and  that  followed  by  Woodrow 
Wilson  later  in  the  passage  of  the  Clayton  Act  and  the  crea- 
tion of  the  Federal  Trade  Commission.  But,  as  Stimson's  own 
reminiscences  remarked  in  1913,  the  speech  was  of  little  or  no 
value  when  delivered.  Not  only  was  Mr.  Taft  preoccupied 
with  the  defense  of  his  own  antitrust  prosecutions,  but  he  and 
Attorney  General  Wickersham  between  them  had  permitted 
a  suit  to  be  brought  whose  bill  of  particulars  contained  re- 
marks about  Theodore  Roosevelt  which  ended  forever  any 
chance  of  a  Taft- Roosevelt  reconciliation.  In  an  antitrust  ac- 
tion against  the  United  States  Steel  Corporation,  the  Govern- 
ment claimed  that  President  Roosevelt,  in  1907,  had  been 
deceived  into  a  wrong  approval  of  the  purchase  by  United 
States  Steel  of  the  Tennessee  Coal  and  Iron  Company.  T.R. 
was  infuriated;  and  whatever  the  rights  and  wrongs  of  the 
situation,  it  was  certainly  a  most  extraordinary  charge  for  the 
lawyers  of  any  administration  to  level  without  warning  at  an 
ex-President  of  their  own  party.  The  case  was  secretly  pre- 
pared, and  Stimson  like  most  other  members  of  the  Cabinet 
remained  in  complete  ignorance  of  its  explosive  nature  until 
the  fat  was  in  the  fire.  The  steel  suit  dragged  through  the 
courts  for  nine  years,  only  to  be  lost  in  the  end  by  the  Govern- 
ment, but  the  unhappy  reference  to  T.R.,  in  which  Mr.  Taft 
himself  apparently  had  no  personal  part,  was  a  direct  fore- 
runner of  the  final  tragic  split  of  the  Republican  party. 

3.     THE  SPLIT  OF  1912 

To  many  of  the  members  of  Mr.  Taft's  Cabinet  the  final 
break  with  Theodore  Roosevelt,  in  February,  1912,  was 
merely  the  fulfillment  of  the  long  expected.  To  some  it  was 
even  a  desirable  ending  to  an  anomalous  situation ;  so  long  had 
they  feared  and  mistrusted  Colonel  Roosevelt  that  they  were 
delighted  to  have  him  in  open  opposition  where  they  could 
freely  attack  him.  Even  Mr.  Taft  himself,  once  as  warm  as 
any  man  in  his  personal  friendship  with  T.R.,  felt  that  in  the 
new  position  of  open  hostility  there  was  a  genuine  mission  for 
him ;  he  could  join  his  own  inevitable  defeat  with  the  defeat 
of  Rooseveltism. 


To  Stimson  it  was  entirely  different.  He  had  joined  the  Taft 
Cabinet  on  Theodore  Roosevelt's  express  advice;  throughout 
the  first  ten  months  of  his  service  he  was  in  constant  and 
friendly  correspondence  with  the  Colonel  and  had  been  gen- 
erously helped  by  both  private  counsel  and  public  support  in 
the  columns  of  the  Outlook.  When  others  talked  of  an  inevi- 
table break  and  announced  their  certainty  that  the  Colonel 
would  be  a  candidate  against  Mr.  Taft  in  1912,  Stimson  de- 
nied it  and  denied  it  again.  He  knew  that  T.R.  was  under 
heavy  pressure  from  the  insurgents,  but  he  could  not  and 
would  not  believe  that  his  friend  and  personal  leader  would 
give  in  to  this  pressure  and  come  out  in  open  opposition  to 
the  man  he  had  himself  made  President. 

On  January  7,  1912,  together  with  Secretary  of  the  Navy 
Meyer,  Stimson  went  to  Oyster  Bay.  He  and  Meyer  were  in 
roughly  the  same  position — both  were  devoted  personal 
friends  of  Mr.  Roosevelt;  both  were  bound  by  official  loyalty 
and  genuine  respect  to  President  Taft.  Deeply  disturbed  by 
increasing  rumors  that  the  Colonel  would  be  a  candidate,  they 
decided  to  go  to  see  him.  They  were  received  with  great 
warmth  and  remained  for  three  hours,  discussing  the  matter 
thoroughly.  Meyer  emphasized  the  evident  fact  that  only  the 
Democrats  could  gain  from  a  Taft-Roosevelt  split.  Stimson 
placed  his  appeal  on  more  personal  grounds:  he  feared  that 
the  ordinary  man,  and  the  historian  too,  would  think  it  per- 
sonally unfair  for  Mr.  Roosevelt  to  run  against  his  old  friend 
Taft — it  would  seem  like  turning  against  his  friend  in  the 
time  of  heaviest  need.  Mr.  Roosevelt  "started  a  little  when  I 
said  this,"  but  "he  did  not  say  anything  in  resentment  and 
seemed  to  understand  the  spirit  in  which  I  said  it."  As  Stim- 
son recalled  it  in  early  1913,  "The  underlying  basis  of  the 
whole  conversation  was  that  under  no  circumstances  would  he 
be  a  candidate  for  the  Presidency,"  although  he  would  of 
course  not  promise  to  refuse  a  genuine  draft.12  Stimson  and 
Meyer  came  away  much  encouraged  and  convinced  that  the 
Colonel  would  not  betray  his  own  interests  and  Mr.  Taffs 
by  an  open  break. 

During  the  remainder  of  January,  in  frequent  conversations 

12  Reminiscences,    1911-1912. 


with  such  friends  as  Senator  Root,  Stimson  found  his  confi- 
dence in  this  view  gradually  fading  away.  A  letter  from  the 
Colonel  on  January  19  gave  him  serious  concern — it  seemed 
to  breathe  a  new  spirit  of  battle ;  it  was  not  like  the  man  who 
had  remarked  on  January  7  that  "the  Presidency  could  never 
appeal  to  him  again  as  it  had  in  the  past  .  .  .  and  that  he  no 
longer  itched  to  get  his  hands  on  the  levers  of  the  great  ma- 
chine again."13  By  early  February,  Stimson  was  greatly 
worried — and  he  had  reason  to  be,  for  the  evidence  now  avail- 
able indicates  that  Mr.  Roosevelt's  mind  was  made  up  before 
the  end  of  January.  On  February  7  Stimson  sent  a  long  letter 
arguing  that  there  was  nothing  to  gain  and  everything  to  lose 
in  an  open  break,  both  for  Colonel  Roosevelt  personally  and 
for  the  Republican  party.  "To  that  letter  I  never  had  any 
direct  reply,"  but  a  friendly  note  on  other  subjects  arrived  in 
the  last  days  of  February.  By  then,  however,  Theodore  Roose- 
velt was  a  declared  candidate  for  the  Republican  nomination. 

Stimson  was  terribly  disappointed,  but  the  worst  was  yet  to 
come.  He  knew  that  the  coming  fight  would  be  bitter;  he 
knew  that  he  himself  would  be  a  Taf  t  man ;  he  had  no  choice, 
in  common  decency,  and  in  any  case  he  believed  that  Theo- 
dore Roosevelt  was  making  a  campaign  on  false  issues — he 
saw  no  such  ground  as  the  Colonel  claimed  for  opposing  Mr. 
Taft.  But  for  all  that,  his  friendship  for  Mr.  Roosevelt  was 
one  of  his  most  deeply  prized  possessions.  How  could  he  hew 
to  the  line  of  friendship  while  maintaining  his  outspoken  sup- 
port of  Mr.  Taft? 

He  tried.  He  was  already  scheduled  to  make  a  speech  on 
March  5  in  Chicago.  When  the  news  of  Mr.  Roosevelt's  deci- 
sion came,  he  inserted  in  his  Chicago  speech  two  brief  para- 
graphs stating  his  position  between  Taft  and  Roosevelt : 

"I  am  for  Mr.  Taft  because  I  believe  that  he  has  faithfully 
carried  out  this  progressive  faith  of  the  Republican  party; 
that  his  administration  stands  for  orderly,  permanent  progress 
in  our  National  Government ;  and  that  to  refuse  him  the  nom- 
ination on  the  assertions  that  have  been  made  against  him 
would  be  a  blow  to  that  progress  and  would  put  a  premium 
upon  hasty  and  unfounded  criticism. 

18  Reminiscences,  1911-1912. 


"I  entered  into  public  life  under  the  inspiration  of  Theo- 
dore Roosevelt.  I  am  a  firm  believer  in  the  great  national  pol- 
icies for  which  he  has  fought.  And  I  now  remain  his  sincere 
friend.  But  I  believe  that  those  who  are  forcing  him,  contrary 
to  his  original  intention,  into  the  arena  against  Mr.  Taft,  are 
jeopardizing  instead  of  helping  the  real  cause  of  progress  in 
the  nation.  The  introduction  of  such  a  contest  at  this  time, 
dragging  in,  as  it  necessarily  will,  new  and  personal  issues 
which  are  quite  foreign  to  the  great  progressive  policies  for 
which  the  Republican  party  stands,  cannot  fail  to  weaken 
whichever  candidate  is  eventually  nominated  in  June." 

This  statement,  carefully  designed  to  avoid  angering  Mr. 
Roosevelt,  was  forwarded  by  Stimson  to  him  before  the  speech 
was  delivered ;  with  the  advance  copy  went  a  letter  full  of  the 
personal  unhappiness  Stimson  felt:  "The  past  week  or  so  has 
not  been  a  happy  one  for  me.  There  is  no  use  pretending  that 
I  was  not  surprised  or  that  I  don't  feel  that  you  have  made  a 
mistake;  for  I  do.  . .  .  You  have  been  right  so  many  times  that 
perhaps  you  are  right  now.  All  the  same  I  have  thought  all 
along  that  Mr.  Taft  should  be  renominated,  and  I  think  so 
still ;  and  I  am  going  to  say  so,  publicly,  in  the  speech  that  I 
am  going  to  make  in  Chicago. ...  I  am  a  poor  hand  at  keeping 
quiet  and  balancing  on  a  fence.  But  I  feel  very  much  as  if  the 
horizon  of  my  little  world  was  swimming  a  good  deal  and  it 
is  hard  to  look  forward  to  a  time  when  I  am  not  working  or 
thinking  with  you.  .  .  ." 

The  answer  that  Stimson  received  showed  the  Colonel  at 
his  best:  "Dear  Harry:  Heavens'  sake!  You  have  most  often 
been  right;  I  hope  I  am  right  now.  I  needn't  tell  you  my  dear 
fellow  that  I  don't  care  a  rap  about  your  attitude  in  favor  of 
Mr.  Taft.  I  have  always  told  you  that  you  would  have  to  be 
for  him.  I  shan't  look  at  the  speech  much  though  I  should  like 
to,  simply  because  I  haven't  time.  The  newspapers  waste  their 
time  if  they  try  to  tell  me  that  you  have  said  anything  against 
me " 

That  is  where  the  story  should  end,  but  it  does  not.  When 
Stimson  made  his  speech  Colonel  Roosevelt  did  read  it;  the 
paragraphs  quoted  above  did  make  him  angry,  and  he  said 
publicly  things  about  Stimson  that  deeply  hurt  a  devoted 


friend — things  that  Stimson  heard  Roosevelt  afterward  re- 
gretted saying  and  that  need  not,  therefore,  be  repeated  here. 
As  a  result  a  friendship  which  had  grown  warmer  and  warmer 
for  six  years  was  shattered,  and  for  three  years  the  two  men 
did  not  meet. 

Time  after  time  in  those  three  years  Stimson  went  back 
over  the  events  described  above;  he  had  angered  the  Colonel 
by  saying  he  was  "forced"  into  the  contest — he  might  better 
have  said  "urged" — but  in  all  conscience  there  was  no  insult 
in  what  he  said,  and  he  could  only  believe  that  T.R.'s  anger 
was  in  some  part  a  recognition  of  the  truth  of  his  remarks. 
Long  as  he  had  hesitated,  and  much  as  he  had  resisted  the 
continuous  urgings  of  his  progressive  friends,  after  taking  the 
plunge  Mr.  Roosevelt  had  no  wish  to  be  reminded  that  part  of 
him  had  always  opposed  the  decision.  He  was  a  fighter,  and  in 
the  fight  of  1912  he  bitterly  and  quite  unfairly  attacked  many 
older  and  closer  friends  than  Stimson.  Stimson  himself  was 
always  most  unhappy  at  what  Mr.  Roosevelt  said  of  Elihu 
Root — a  man  who  owed  him  much,  certainly,  but  to  whom 
he  owed  much  more.  Only  in  this  one  outburst  did  T.R.  ever 
attack  Stimson;  compared  with  what  he  said  of  Mr.  Root,  this 
was  magnanimous  treatment,  and  Stimson  knew  it.  Political  at- 
tacks were  normal,  and  expected,  in  such  a  situation,  even 
between  friends,  but  those  hot  and  angry  personal  denuncia- 
tions by  a  master  of  invective  were  quite  different.  Colonel 
Roosevelt  made  his  oldest  friends  into  liars,  ingrates,  knaves, 
and  thieves,  always  no  doubt  sincerely  but  with  a  wrathy  fe- 
rocity that  made  it  quite  impossible  to  smile  as  if  he  were  a 
mere  Peck's  Bad  Boy.  And,  hardest  of  all  for  Stimson,  these 
outpourings  came  from  a  man  whose  personal  kindliness  and 
compelling  charm  he  had  a  hundred  times  experienced,  and 
whose  magnificent  spirit  he  knew  to  be  basically  undefiled. 
In  his  personal  denunciation  of  his  friends  Theodore  Roose- 
velt was  brutally  unfair — and  to  no  one  more  than  to  himself. 
Fortunately  for  Stimson  his  relationship  with  Theodore 
Roosevelt  did  not  end  in  1912.  Three  years  later  a  new  com- 
mon cause  brought  them  together,  and  when  the  Colonel  died, 
in  1919,  Stimson  lost  a  friend  as  close  as  the  one  he  had  lost  in 


The  campaign  of  1912  need  not  detain  us  here.  The  Roose- 
velt hat  went  into  the  ring  in  February;  from  then  on  matters 
went  from  bad  to  worse.  Mr.  Taft  won  the  nomination  at  a 
convention  at  which  Elihu  Root  was  chairman ;  Mr.  Roosevelt 
cried  "Theft"  and  formed  the  Progressive  party.  The  Repub- 
lican party  was  split  right  down  the  middle,  and  Woodrow 
Wilson  was  easily  elected.  Both  Mr.  Taft  and  Mr.  Roosevelt 
were  far  more  bitter  at  each  other  than  at  the  Democrat  Wil- 
son ;  each  found  consolation  in  the  defeat  of  the  other.  It  was 
an  extraordinary  campaign  in  many  ways,  perhaps  most  of  all 
for  its  demonstration  of  the  personal  magnetism  of  Theodore 
Roosevelt;  he  became  the  principal  target  of  both  his  oppo- 
nents but  with  a  brand-new  party  ran  second,  well  ahead  of 
President  Taft. 

For  Stimson  it  was  a  wretched  campaign.  He  was  treated 
with  perfect  sympathy  and  fairness  by  the  President,  and  in- 
deed he  never  admired  Mr.  Taft  more  than  for  his  sensitive 
recognition  that  Mr.  Roosevelt's  personal  friends,  even  when 
repudiated,  could  not  join  in  any  direct  attack  on  their  former 
leader.  Stimson  tried  in  the  spring  to  write  a  speech  which 
would  help  the  President  without  hurting  Mr.  Roosevelt.  He 
produced  an  effort  which  was  of  high  moral  tone  but  no  pos- 
sible political  value.  Stimson  and  Senator  Root  talked  it  over. 
"He  liked  it  very  much  and  fully  agreed  with  what  I  said, 
but  he  agreed  with  me  that  it  would  do  no  good  in  the  cam- 
paign. He  said,  'It  would  not  have  any  more  effect  than  to 
read  the  23rd  Psalm.'  "14  Mr.  Taft  accepted  the  situation  with 
perfect  understanding,  and  called  on  Stimson  only  for  formal 
speeches  defending  the  administration  and  its  policies. 

For  Stimson  himself  the  campaign  of  1912  had  an  odd  re- 
sult. Until  that  campaign  he  had  been  known  as  a  progressive 
Republican,  and  in  his  own  view  he  remained  a  progressive 
even  after  the  split.  Yet  for  the  rest  of  his  life  he  was  often 
tagged  as  a  stand-patter  because  he  remained  with  President 
Taft.  This  he  thought  as  unfair  to  him  as  it  was  to  Mr.  Taft 
himself.  It  was  not  principle  but  personality,  not  purpose  but 
method,  that  divided  Mr.  Taft  and  Mr.  Roosevelt.  Once  the 
campaign  had  begun,  both  sides  made  issues  where  none  had 

14  Reminiscences,   1911-1912. 


been  before,  and  it  was  true  that  most  of  the  real  reactionaries 
were  with  Mr.  Taft  and  almost  all  the  "lunatic  fringe"  of 
radicals  with  T.R.  But  between  the  two  great  men  themselves 
— and  to  Stimson  both  were  great — there  was  no  such  basic 

Perhaps  if  Stimson  had  been  a  private  citizen  he  would 
have  followed  Mr.  Roosevelt  into  the  new  party.  His  first  per- 
sonal loyalty  would  certainly  have  been  to  the  Colonel.  But 
as  it  was  he  had  no  choice,  and  no  doubts.  "One  of  the  main 
reasons  why  I  had  been  taken  in  was  on  account  of  my  close 
association  with  Roosevelt  and  with  a  view  to  conciliating  his 
following.  .  .  .  All  such  hopes  had,  of  course,  turned  to  ashes 
in  the  present  situation.  I  had  never  had  any  doubts  whatever 
as  to  the  proper  course  to  pursue.  In  the  first  place  I  had  not 
gone  in  myself  with  any  political  commission,  but  had  gone 
in  to  make  as  good  a  Secretary  of  War  as  I  could. 

"I  had  gone  in  with  that  express  commission  from  Roose- 
velt. When  he  now  turned  against  the  President  I  could  no 
more  resign  than  I  could  openly  come  out  against  the  Presi- 
dent. Either  one  would  have  been  rank  disloyalty  to  the  com- 
mission which  I  had  accepted  from  Mr.  Taft  and  which  had 
been  approved  in  1911  by  Roosevelt. 

"Under  the  circumstances  as  I  confronted  them  then  in  the 
winter  and  spring  of  1912,  it  would  have  been  just  as  serious 
a  blow  to  Mr.  Taft  to  have  a  member  of  his  Cabinet  resign 
under  those  circumstances  as  it  would  to  have  me  support 
Roosevelt  while  in  the  Cabinet."15 

The  election  of  1912  brought  an  end  to  a  most  unhappy 
period  in  Stimson's  life.  The  tension  lifted,  especially  at  the 
White  House,  where  Mr.  Taft  proved  himself  a  good  loser, 
almost  happy  to  be  relieved  of  an  office  he  had  never  really 
liked.  Stimson  finished  his  term  with  a  burst  of  renewed  ac- 
tivity on  the  Army  reforms  he  had  learned  to  value  so  highly. 
Through  letters  to  friends  of  his  who  knew  the  President- 
elect, he  was  able  to  communicate  some  of  his  ideas  to  Mr. 
Wilson  and  he  was  succeeded  by  Lindley  Garrison,  a  man 
with  whom  he  soon  established  very  friendly  relations ;  Gar- 
rison quickly  grasped  the  basic  principles  for  which  the  Army 

15  Reminiscences,   1911-1912. 


progressives  were  working,  and  the  War  Department  was  un- 
disturbed by  the  change  of  administration.  On  March  4  Stim- 
son  returned  to  private  life,  with  no  personal  regrets  whatever. 

Service  with  Mr.  Taft  had  sometimes  been  difficult,  for 
this  President  was  not  a  political  leader  but  a  judge.  Nor  had 
Stimson  always  agreed  with  his  chief  on  policy.  But  in  basic 
honesty  and  personal  courage,  Mr.  Taft  was  the  equal  of  any 
man  Stimson  ever  worked  for,  and  in  addition  he  was  kindly, 
candid,  and  easy  to  work  with.  It  was  his  misfortune  that  he 
was  not  born  to  like  the  polemics  of  political  leadership;  his 
instinctive  lifelong  yearning  for  the  duties  of  the  bench  was 
a  better  guide  than  the  family  ambition  which  led  him  to  the 
White  House.  To  Stimson  he  was  and  remained  for  many 
years  afterward  a  loyal  and  devoted  older  friend. 

Nor  should  we  end  this  chapter  without  recalling  that  the 
main  business  of  Stimson's  two  years,  after  all,  was  the  Army. 
For  what  he  learned  in  those  two  years,  and  what  he  was  able 
to  do  as  his  contribution  to  military  reform,  he  always  re- 
mained grateful  to  the  man  who  appointed  him.  For  his  later 
service  in  the  largest  assignment  he  was  ever  given,  these  two 
years  were  the  most  important  in  his  early  public  life. 

C  H  A  P  T  E  R    III 

Responsible  Government 


THE  awakening  of  conscience  and  complaint  that  marked 
American  politics  from  1890  to  1917  crossed  Stimson's 
life  at  three  points.  As  a  citizen  of  New  York  City  he  had  met 
it  as  an  issue  simply  of  honest  and  efficient  administration — 
municipal  corruption  could  be  beaten  by  electing  a  strong  and 
honest  mayor.  As  district  attorney  charged  with  the  execution 
of  federal  laws  he  had  become  a  sufficient  symbol  of  righteous- 
ness to  win  political  attention.  The  problem  was  again  pre- 
sented mainly  as  one  of  civic  virtue — of  finding  and  convicting 
the  wicked.  From  1911  to  1915  he  was  deeply  involved  in  the 
study  of  American  Government  as  a  whole,  and  here  he  faced 
at  close  range  problems  that  would  not  yield  to  the  simple 
criteria  of  right  and  wrong  which  seemed  sufficient  for  a  judg- 
ment of  Tammany  Hall  or  Charles  W.  Morse.  For  if  the  body 
politic  was  diseased,  the  cure  was  not  obvious  and  many  solu- 
tions were  being  offered. 

The  theoretically  easy  and  emotionally  satisfactory  solution 
to  the  failures  of  democracy  lay  in  "more  democracy."  If  gov- 
ernment was  inefficient  or  subservient  to  powerful  private 
interests,  turn  it  back  to  the  people.  This  solution,  which  was 
in  direct  line  with  the  traditions  of  Jeffersonian  democracy, 
found  its  expression  in  the  movement  for  the  direct  election  of 
senators  and  the  direct  primary  and  more  exuberantly  in  the 
campaigns  for  the  initiative,  the  referendum,  and  the  recall. 
The  initiative  was  to  provide  a  method  of  popular  legislation 
by  direct  individual  proposal  and  public  vote ;  the  referendum 
would  permit  the  people  to  pass  directly  on  laws  suggested 



either  by  individuals  or  by  the  legislature;  the  recall  would 
provide  a  means  for  the  removal  of  elective  officers  by  a  simple 
popular  vote.  The  people  had  lost  control  of  their  Government 
because  its  complexities  provided  a  smoke  screen  for  the 
manipulations  of  bosses  and  private  interests;  then  let  the 
people  themselves  take  charge. 

The  popular  force  of  these  arguments  was  very  strong;  the 
direct  primary  became  a  cause  to  which  all  parties  gave  lip 
service,  and  the  direct  election  of  senators  became  law  as  the 
Seventeenth  Amendment  in  May,  1913.  The  other  measures 
in  the  general  program  of  direct  government  made  less  head- 
way, but  the  attitude  that  inspired  them  remained. 

Other  students  were  in  the  meantime  working  out  a  wholly 
different  set  of  conclusions.  Admittedly  government — espe- 
cially state  government — was  susceptible  of  corruption  and 
prone  to  inefficiency;  the  ascendancy  of  the  boss  and  the 
ordinarily  inviolate  security  of  powerful  business  interests  had 
made  good  government  an  uphill  fight.  But  to  many  it  seemed 
clear  that  the  remedy  could  not  lie  in  such  simple  nostrums  as 
those  of  direct  government.  After  all,  the  state  officers  and 
legislators  were  all  directly  elected — somewhere  among  them 
lay  the  power,  and  as  individuals  they  were  directly  respon- 
sible to  the  voters.  It  was  not  the  simple  principle  of  democracy 
that  was  here  at  fault ;  the  worst  of  these  men  often  gloried  in 
their  heavy  and  unbroken  majorities.  The  answer  must  lie 
somewhere  else.  If  they  were  essentially  ineffective  and  yet 
continued  in  office  by  re-election,  it  must  be  that  their  inef- 
fectiveness had  not  been  made  evident  to  the  voter.  And  to  those 
who  reached  this  conclusion  an  explanation  at  once  suggested 
itself  as  they  looked  at  the  existing  governments.  The  difficulty 
faced  by  the  public  was  that  it  was  seldom  easy  to  find  out 
what  official  was  responsible  for  any  given  success  or  failure. 
American  Government  in  the  early  twentieth  century  was 
characterized  by  divided  authority  and  general  impotence; 
finding  the  sinner  in  politics  was  like  finding  the  little  round 
ball  in  the  old  shell  game.  The  finger  of  blame  was  pointed  by 
one  officeholder  at  another,  right  around  the  circle,  as  Nast  had 
drawn  it  a  generation  before  in  his  famous  cartoon  of  the 


Tweed  Ring.1  Nowhere  could  the  voter  stop  his  search  and 
surely  know  who  was  his  man — his  public  servants  were  col- 
lectively responsible,  of  course,  but  as  individuals?  He  could 
not  say. 

The  ordinary  result  of  this  condition  was  ordinary  corrup- 
tion, and  from  the  Civil  War  onward  American  local  politics 
had  been  largely  a  matter  of  alternating  long-term  boss  control 
and  short-term  reformist  rebellion.  But  toward  the  end  of  the 
century  the  problem  was  seen  to  be  more  serious.  The  bosses 
were  friends  of  "the  interests";  while  "the  interests"  were 
themselves  more  or  less  invisible,  this  connection  was  not  in 
itself  widely  disturbing.  But  the  imperial  achievements  and 
excesses  of  American  capitalists  were  not  so  easily  camouflaged 
as  the  quiet  negotiations  of  insignificant  politicians.  In  the 
years  of  Theodore  Roosevelt  the  battle  for  public  regulation 
was  fought  and  apparently  won  in  the  ballot  boxes.  It  seemed 
to  be  the  public  verdict  that  government  must  assume  the  duty 
of  energetic  action  in  the  regulation  of  commerce,  industry, 
and  labor.  It  was  this  assignment  of  new  duties  which  brought 
into  the  open  the  basic  inefficiency  of  the  state  and  federal 

Responsibility  could  not  be  divorced  from  authority.  And 
as  they  further  studied  the  history  of  state  government,  men 
began  to  think  that  irresponsibility  was  a  direct  result  of  scat- 
tered authority  and  divided  power ;  fear  of  too  much  govern- 
ment had  led  to  untrustworthy  government.  The  true  remedy 
for  American  misgovernment  would  lie,  then,  in  exactly  the 
opposite  direction  from  that  indicated  by  the  advocates  of 
direct  democracy.  The  elected  officials  must  have  more  power, 
not  less — only  so  could  they  be  held  accountable  for  success  or 

It  was  in  this  stream  of  thinking  that  Stimson  had  found 
himself  in  January,  191 1,  when  at  Theodore  Roosevelt's  request 
he  made  a  speech  to  the  Republicans  of  Cleveland,  Ohio.  In 
preparing  that  speech  he  was  for  the  first  time  forced  to  organ- 
ize his  own  mind.  He  had  been  asked  to  talk  on  the  progressive 

1  And  as  Hamilton  had  foretold  when  he  argued  against  a  divided  or  plural  execu- 
tive branch  in  the  seventieth  article  of  the  Federalist.  This  article  became  a  text  which 
Stimson  often  quoted  in  these  years. 


movement  in  the  party.  And  he  did  so,  confining  his  attention 
to  state  government.  After  paying  his  respects  to  the  general 
good  will  of  all  progressives  of  all  schools,  he  addressed  his 
attention  to  the  sources  of  the  evils  they  were  attacking: 

"I  think  it  is  clear  that  the  underlying  cause  of  this  move- 
ment is  the  present  inefficiency  of  our  state  governments.  .  .  . 
As  has  been  pointed  out  by  Mr.  Croly  in  his  brilliant  study 
of  this  subject,2  the  prevailing  form  of  our  present  state  gov- 
ernment took  shape  during  the  first  half  of  the  last  century 
when  the  political  views  of  Jefferson  and  Jackson  were  current. 
.  .  .  Fear  of  such  tyranny  as  some  of  the  Royal  Governors 
exercised  over  their  colonies  before  the  Revolution  was  allowed 
to  color  and  influence  a  situation  which  was  entirely  different. 
They  cut  the  Executive  down  to  a  term  too  short  to  carry 
through  any  constructive  policy;  they  took  away  his  chiefs  of 
departments,  and  made  them  either  elective  or  otherwise  inde- 
pendent of  him ;  they  separated  him  as  far  as  possible  from  the 
representative  lawmaking  body  with  which  he  must  work;  and 
in  every  way  they  reduced  him  to  a  mere  ornament  of  doubtful 

Then  he  stopped  and  made  a  comparison  which  he  was  later 
to  use  with  its  cutting  edge :  "Which  one  of  you  businessmen 
would  assume  the  presidency  of  a  great  enterprise  under  pledge 
to  conduct  it  to  a  successful  conclusion,  if  you  were  limited 
to  one  or  two  years  for  the  task ;  if  you  could  not  choose  your  - 
own  chiefs  of  departments,  or  even  your  legal  adviser;  were 
not  allowed  full  control  over  your  other  subordinates ;  and  if 
you  were  not  permitted  freely  to  advise  with  and  consult  your 
executive  committee  or  your  board  of  directors?" 

Having  appealed  to  the  common  sense  of  his  largely  Repub- 
lican audience,  he  returned  to  his  main  theme:  "So  long  as 
our  nation  remained  young  and  hopeful,  so  long  as  our 
problems  were  simple,  we  could  scrape  along  even  with  happy- 
go-lucky  inefficiency.  And  we  have  done  so.  For  a  long  time 
the  only  result  of  our  faulty  organization  .  .  .  was  to  develop 
a  professional  political  class  which  ran  our  government  for  us. 
The  boss  and  his  power  is  the  direct  outgrowth  of  depriving  the 
public  officer  of  his  power. 

2  Herbert  Croly,  The  Promise  of  American  Life,  Macmillan,  1909. 


"But  this  condition  of  national  simplicity  remains  no  longer. 
The  giant  growth  of  our  industries,  the  absorption  of  our  free 
land,  the  gradual  change  of  our  nation  from  a  farming  people 
to  one  living  largely  in  cities,  with  needs  far  more  diversified 
than  those  of  their  fathers,  have  brought  us  face  to  face  with 
the  most  acute  problems  of  modern  democracy.  Side  by  side 
with  our  helpless  officialdom  has  grown  up  the  tremendous 
structure  of  modern  incorporated  business.  There  is  nothing 
inefficient  in  that  development.  Its  wealth  is  limitless  and 
increasing,  its  organization  has  the  perfection  of  a  military 
machine,  its  ministers  spring  to  their  tasks  endowed  with  the 
best  specialized  training  that  science  can  give  them.  The  result 
of  contact  between  the  two  could  have  but  one  issue.  So  long 
as  they  occupy  any  ground  that  is  common,  so  long  as  business 
has  any  relations  to  the  public,  one  or  the  other  must  control. 
And  it  is  not  difficult  to  see,  under  present  conditions,  which 
that  one  must  be." 

Business  had  grown  big,  but  this  in  itself  was  no  sin.  The 
crime  was  simply  in  the  failure  of  government  to  keep  pace — 
"one  or  the  other  must  control,"  and  control  should  rightly 
belong  only  to  government. 

"One  result  of  this  growth  of  the  power  and  wealth  of 
business  has  been  a  complete  change  in  the  attitude  of  the 
private  citizen  towards  the  Executive.  Instead  of  regarding 
it  as  a  possible  tyrant,  as  Jefferson  did,  we  now  look  to  executive 
action  to  protect  the  individual  citizen  against  the  oppression 
of  this  unofficial  power  of  business.  When  Mr.  Jefferson  wrote 
to  Archibald  Stewart:  'I  would  rather  be  exposed  to  the  incon- 
veniences attending  too  much  liberty  than  those  attending  too 
small  a  degree  of  it,'  he  never  dreamed  that  out  of  too  much 
liberty  from  official  control  might  develop  an  unofficial  power 
capable  not  only  of  overwhelming  the  individual  citizen  but 
the  state  government  along  with  him.  He  never  dreamed  that 
the  time  w;ould  come  when  the  net  earnings  of  a  single  private 
business  association  would  far  exceed  the  total  revenues  of  the 
great  states  of  New  York  and  Ohio  put  together.  In  other 
words,  the  danger  feared  by  Jefferson  is  now  reversed.  It  is 
not  the  people  who  are  in  danger  from  a  strong  state  govern- 
ment. It  is  the  government  itself  that  is  in  danger  from  private 


influence.  And  the  danger  is  that  it  will  not  be  strong  enough 
or  pure  enough  to  protect  the  single  citizen  from  the  same 

"It  is  to  this  situation  that  the  progressive  movement  in  the 
various  states  addresses  itself.  This  is  the  main  evil  to  which, 
in  one  form  or  another,  the  various  remedies  are  being  ap- 
plied  " 

This  attack  on  Thomas  Jefferson  was  a  congenial  labor  for 
Stimson.  As  he  wrote  to  a  friend  at  the  time,  "Poor  old  Jeffer- 
son .  .  .  what  I  have  charged  up  mainly  to  his  account  was 
his  fear  of  any  strong  Executive,  about  which  he  was  so  fond 
of  talking,  and  his  opposition  to  any  strong  government.  .  -  .  I 
have  never  thought  Mr.  Jefferson  guilty  of  originating  much 
of  any  political  ideas.  His  power  and  his  accomplishment  was 
that  he  popularized  ideas  originated  by  others,  most  of  which 
he  very  imperfectly  understood." 

Anyhow  Jefferson  was  certainly  no  help  in  the  problems 
which  the  speaker  took  up  next:  "The  people  in  their  per- 
plexity are  trusting  more  and  more  to  the  Executive ;  they  are 
trusting  less  and  less  to  the  legislature.  They  recognize  that 
the  Executive  has  become  the  representative  of  the  whole  state 
in  a  sense  not  hitherto  appreciated.  They  appeal  to  him  for 
relief  from  the  obstacles  which  block  the  free  course  of  repre- 
sentative government." 

Governors  of  strong  character,  he  went  on,  had  been  able  to 
push  through  or  slide  around  the  obstacles  of  the  system,  but 
always  at  great  cost  of  time  and  energy,  and  he  might  have 
added  that  states  could  hardly  expect  as  their  normal  right 
such  men  as  the  three  he  mentioned — Charles  Hughes,  Theo- 
dore Roosevelt,  and  Woodrow  Wilson.  The  conclusions  he 
reached  were  simple:  "We  should  frankly  abandon  the  theory 
of  the  separation  of  the  executive  and  the  legislative  functions, 
and  our  state  constitutions  should  be  changed  to  accomplish 
that  end.  To  sum  up  my  analysis,  I  believe  that  the  causes  of 
our  trouble  are,  in  the  main,  threefold :  first,  our  state  Execu- 
tives are  not  strong  enough  or  responsive  enough  to  deal  with 
modern  conditions;  second,  our  local  legislatures,  largely 
owing  to  the  same  change  in  modern  conditions,  have  tended 
to  become  less  representative  of  public  opinion  and  more  rep- 


resentative  of  private  interest;  and  third,  the  theory  of  separat- 
ing the  Governor  from  the  legislature  is  a  tremendous  block 
to  efficiency.  These  very  defects  naturally  suggest  their  reme- 
dies; and  I  believe  that  the  true  line  of  progress  is  to  aim  to 
perfect  and  strengthen  our  representative  system  of  govern- 
ment, through  the  Executive,  rather  than  to  weaken  it  or 
abandon  it  for  any  other." 

Thus  back  in  1911  Stimson  had  laid  down  the  main  line 
of  his  thinking.  The  speech  was  praised  by  his  friends — T.R. 
was  particularly  cordial.  "I  think  your  speech  not  only  admir- 
able, but  one  of  as  wise  originality  as  we  have  recently  seen." 
The  "originality"  was  largely  in  detail  of  organization  and 
Colonel  Roosevelt  would  have  been  pained  to  know  how  much 
Stimson's  general  line  of  attack  paralleled  that  of  Woodrow 
Wilson  in  New  Jersey.  The  fact  of  the  matter  was  that 
Stimson  was  expressing  views  which  were  widely  held  by 
writers  like  Wilson,  Herbert  Croly,  and  Henry  Jones  Ford 
and  certainly  shared  by  many  a  state  Governor.  For  us  the 
important  fact  is  that,  from  the  preparation  of  this  speech 
forward,  they  became  Stimson's  views,  strongly  held  and 
zealously  advocated. 

The  ideas  of  1911  were  reinforced,  not  weakened,  by  his 
experience  in  the  War  Department,  and  he  returned  to  New 
York  with  an  increased  conviction  that  his  basic  theories  were 
sound.  In  a  speech  delivered  in  Philadelphia  in  May,  1913,  he 
extended  to  the  Federal  Government  his  insistence  upon  a 
strong  Executive,  and  although  he  was  now  cut  off  from  active 
participation  in  national  politics,  the  next  two  years  provided 
in  New  York  State  an  unusual  opportunity  for  constitutional 

The  Republican  party  in  New  York,  as  elsewhere,  was  split 
down  the  middle  by  the  campaign  of  1912.  To  Stimson  the 
principal  objective  of  the  moment  was  to  end  the  split,  recreat- 
ing the  progressive  Republican  party  as  it  had  been  in  the 
second  term  of  Theodore  Roosevelt.  To  him  the  Republican 
party  still  remained  the  proper  vehicle  for  progressive  policies ; 
he  saw  it  as  the  descendant  of  the  Federalist  party  and  the 
historic  party  of  positive  government.  "Throughout  its  exist- 


ence,"  he  wrote  to  an  Ohio  Republican,  "it  has  contained 
within  its  membership  the  men  who  believed  that  the  Govern- 
ment was  not  a  mere  organized  police  force,  a  sort  of  necessary 
evil,  but  rather  an  affirmative  agency  of  national  progress  and 
social  betterment."3  This,  as  Stimson  well  knew,  was  only  a 
partial  statement  of  the  nature  of  the  Republican  party;  it  had 
also  been  in  some  places  and  at  certain  times  the  party  of  the 
stand-patters.  The  present  problem,  indeed,  was  to  prevent 
these  stand-patters  from  taking  control.  Two  things  were  re- 
quired to  remake  the  party  after  1912;  one  was  the  reassertion 
of  Republican-Federalist  principles  in  a  positive,  progressive 
program,  and  the  other  was  the  elimination  of  those  leaders 
of  the  far  right  who  in  their  opposition  to  all  effective  govern- 
ment were  at  once  betraying  the  true  party  tradition  and  lend- 
ing substance  to  the  complaints  of  the  progressives. 

At  first  in  the  spring  of  1913  it  appeared  that  the  principal 
duty  of  the  Republican  party  in  New  York  was  to  clean  out 
its  machine  leaders  and  reactionaries,  and  for  several  months 
Stimson  and  a  group  of  his  friends  devoted  their  energies  to 
an  abortive  effort  to  unseat  the  Republican  boss,  William 
Barnes,  Jr.  A  Harvard  graduate  and  leading  citizen  of  Albany, 
Barnes  had  become,  in  his  effective  control  of  the  extremely 
conservative  wing  of  the  party,  a  symbol  of  reaction.  To  Stim- 
son, such  leadership  seemed  intolerable. 

But  it  was  a  fruitless  undertaking.  Barnes  was  lawfully 
established  as  state  chairman;  he  would  not  resign  and,  lack- 
ing an  outstanding  leader  willing  to  give  his  full  energy  to  the 
business  of  politics,  the  liberal  Republicans  were  unable  to 
effect  their  projected  "grass  roots"  rebellion. 

When  they  were  forced  to  leave  Barnes  in  his  glory,  the 
attention  of  the  reformers  turned  from  men  to  ideas  and  for 
their  ideas  they  steadily  made  friends,  hammering  a  detailed 
and  practical  program  out  of  the  general  notions  which  they 
and  others  had  brought  to  the  subject  of  government.  Their 
pressure  forced  Barnes  to  give  them  a  hearing  in  the  party.  In 
convention  in  September,  1913,  they  made  some  progress;  at  a 
mass  meeting  under  Root  in  December  they  made  more.  And 
then  in  the  spring  of  1914,  by  one  of  the  curious  ironies  of 

3  Letter  to  George  W.  Wess,  December  16,  1913. 


politics,  Tammany  Hall  presented  the  reform  Republicans 
with  a  great  opportunity,  for  on  April  7  in  a  vote  that  was 
evidence  of  the  efficiency  of  the  Democratic  machine  and  the 
apathy  of  the  rest  of  the  state,  there  was  approved  a  Demo- 
cratic proposal  for  a  constitutional  convention  to  be  held  in 
the  summer  of  1915.  With  this  convention  as  a  definite  objec- 
tive, the  reform  Republicans,  of  whom  Stimson  was  perhaps 
the  most  active,  framed  a  program  with  which  in  that  summer 
they  took  control  of  the  party.  In  terms  of  New  York  State 
this  program  spelled  out  the  general  principles  of  responsible 
government  which  had  increasingly  enlisted  Stimson's  con- 
victions: The  Governor  should  be  strong;  his  executive  power 
should  not  be  hampered  by  the  existence  of  other  elective 
officials;  he  should  formulate  and  propose  the  financial  pro- 
gram of  the  state  and  be  free  to  bring  his  measures  personally 
before  the  legislature. 

This  program  with  other  measures  of  less  personal  interest 
to  Stimson  became,  though  not  in  binding  form,  the  platform 
upon  which  Republican  candidates  campaigned  for  election 
as  delegates  to  the  convention,  in  the  election  of  November, 
1914.  And  to  the  consternation  of  Tammany  Hall  two-thirds  of 
those  elected  in  November  were  Republicans. 

The  Progressive  or  Bull  Moose  party  failed  to  elect  a  single 
delegate.  The  leadership  of  the  convention  would  be  entirely 
in  the  hands  of  the  Grand  Old  Party;  it  would  now  be  seen 
whether  in  fact  the  Republicans  of  New  York  were  a  party  of 
progress  and  reform.  Many  of  his  progressive  friends  were 
pessimistic,  but  Stimson  was  full  of  hope.  It  was  true  that  many 
of  the  Republican  delegates  were  extremely  conservative  and 
that  very  few  of  them  as  yet  fully  understood  the  principles  for 
which  Stimson  and  others  were  working;  but  in  the  platform 
of  1914  and  the  general  attitude  of  the  more  interested  members 
of  the  party,  Stimson  and  his  friends  thought  they  saw  the 
beginnings  of  a  movement  which  might  produce  substantial 
fruits  in  the  convention. 

Stimson  himself  was  elected  as  a  delegate  at  large,  running 
third  highest  of  fifteen  successful  candidates.  It  was  his  first 
and  only  elective  office  and  its  importance  in  his  life  runs  far 
beyond  its  meaning  to  the  voter  or  the  general  historian,  for  in 


the  convention  of  1915  the  work  and  thinking  of  several  years 
came  to  a  focus. 


The  convention  which  met  in  Albany  on  April  6,  1915, 
contained  an  extraordinary  group  of  men,  old  and  young. 

Easily  chief  among  them  was  Elihu  Root.  Having  behind 
him  the  commanding  prestige  of  a  singularly  distinguished 
career,  with  his  brilliance  and  industry  unweakened  by  his 
seventy  years,  he  guided  the  convention  throughout  its  labors. 
His  close  attention  was  given  to  every  amendment  passed,  and 
the  force  of  his  personal  leadership  was  the  great  agent  of 
successful  compromise  and  adjustment  wherever  the  issues 
were  complex  and  major  elements  divided.  Root  occupied  a 
position  of  unique  distinction  among  Republicans.  Twenty 
years  before  he  had  been  floor  leader  of  an  earlier  constitu- 
tional convention.  Throughout  the  state  men  now  leaders  in 
their  own  right  looked  to  him  for  guidance.  It  was  only  his 
earnest  advocacy  of  the  cause  of  responsible  government  that 
made  possible  the  construction  work  of  the  convention;  his 
voice  was  persuasive  to  many  who  might  otherwise  have  re- 
garded with  suspicion  and  fear  the  demand  for  stronger  and 
more  active  government.  Root's  interest  in  the  convention 
had  been  largely  developed  by  Stimson,  and  if  the  latter 
had  done  nothing  else  for  the  idea  of  responsible  government, 
he  would  have  been  content  to  stand  on  his  work  in  winning 
Root  to  its  support. 

Root  was  not  only  president  of  the  convention  but  the  leader 
of  the  much  smaller  but  still  controlling  group  of  men  who 
came  to  be  known  by  their  adversaries  as  "the  federal  crowd." 
These  were  the  Republicans  who  wanted  reform;  the  four 
most  energetic  were  Wickersham,  Parsons,  O'Brian,  and  Stim- 

George  W.  Wickersham,  floor  leader  of  the  Republicans 
and  chairman  of  the  Judiciary  Committee,  had  been  President 
Taft's  Attorney  General.  He  was  a  man  of  force — perhaps 
of  more  force  than  political  experience.  In  his  mistrust  of 
Colonel  Roosevelt  he  seemed  a  stern  conservative,  but  his  anti- 


trust  prosecutions  under  Mr.  Taft  had  been  extremely  ener- 
getic. He  was  as  firm  in  his  convictions  as  he  was  friendly 
and  gregarious  in  social  doings,  and  to  the  "federal  crowd" 
he  brought  industry,  intelligence,  and  the  prestige  of  a  dis- 
tinguished career. 

Herbert  Parsons  was  in  Stimson's  view,  then  and  after,  the 
ablest  younger  Republican  of  New  York  State.  He  had  been 
one  of  Theodore  Roosevelt's  principal  political  advisers  for 
the  state  during  Roosevelt's  Presidency.  He  had  been  six 
years  in  Congress.  He  combined  a  talent  for  party  work  with 
the  finest  personal  integrity.  More  than  most  of  his  colleagues 
in  the  party,  he  had  a  keen  sense  of  the  validity  of  the  new 
drives  for  social  legislation,  and  his  influence  was  thrown 
steadily  in  the  direction  of  humanitarian  government.  Parsons 
was  most  active  in  the  management  of  the  convention  and 
became  the  chairman  of  the  Committee  on  Industrial  Interests 
and  Relations — in  a  later  day  it  would  have  been  called  the 
Labor  Committee. 

John  Lord  O'Brian  was  a  forty-year-old  progressive  Repub- 
lican from  Erie  County.  He  had  first  become  prominent  as 
an  ardent  and  effective  supporter  of  Governor  Hughes.  A  man 
of  modesty,  with  a  sensitive  intelligence  and  a  lively  wit,  he 
was  the  leading  representative  of  the  younger  and  more 
progressive  up-State  Republicans. 

These  men,  with  Stimson,  were  Mr.  Root's  principal  lieu- 
tenants, but  there  were  others  in  the  convention  who  were 
usually  friendly  to  the  reform  program — such  men  as  Seth 
Low,  ex-president  of  Columbia  and  former  reform  Mayor  of 
New  York,  and  Frederick  C.  Tanner,  the  new  and  youthful 
chairman  of  the  Republican  State  Committee. 

These  men  with  a  few  others  formed  the  nucleus  which  gave 
to  the  Convention  a  program  of  revision.  It  was  their  task  in 
committee  and  on  the  floor  to  win  support  for  as  many  of 
their  reforms  as  possible.  This  task  was  greatly  complicated 
by  the  fact  that  not  all  the  able  leadership  was  in  the  camp 
of  the  "federal  crowd."  On  the  one  hand  were  the  Democrats 
and  on  the  other  the  conservative  up-State  Republicans,  and 
there  were  striking  personalities  in  each  group. 

The  idea  of  a  constitutional  convention  had  been  of  Demo- 


cratic  origin,  but  the  fifty-two  Democrats  who  came  to  Albany 
were  no  longer  very  eager  for  change,  for  it  was  clear  that 
change  could  no  longer  be  of  their  making.  The  great  party 
issue  was  the  reapportionment  of  the  legislature  to  remove 
certain  restrictions  on  the  representation  of  New  York  City 
in  the  state  Senate,  and  on  this  issue  defeat  was  certain.  No  one 
in  the  Republican  party  would  vote  for  a  change  which  might 
eventually  have  the  effect  of  increasing  Democratic  strength 
at  Albany;  and  even  the  less  partisan  Republicans — Stimson 
and  his  friends  among  them — held  that  it  was  meet  and  right 
that  no  one  city  should  dominate  the  councils  of  the  state.  To 
the  Democrats  all  this  was  pious  fraud,  made  more  bitter  by 
the  fact  that  in  their  view  this  was  the  central  wrong,  to  right 
which  they  had  for  two  years  been  urging  a  convention.  Their 
elder  statesmen,  Delancey  Nicoll  and  Morgan  J.  O'Brien, 
spoke  with  cool  and  prayerful  logic ;  their  younger  leaders,  Al 
Smith  and  Robert  Wagner,  used  facts  and  figures,  eloquence 
and  emotional  appeal,  to  urge  "justice"  for  the  citizens  of  their 
city.  It  was  useless.  Nor  would  Stimson,  then  or  later,  admit 
that  they  were  right.  In  New  York  State,  from  the  seaboard 
to  the  Great  Lakes,  there  was  a  great  variety  of  people  and  in- 
dustries; he  did  not  think  they  should  be  subjected  to  the  en- 
tire control  of  the  urban  masses  who  lived  in  a  single 
metropolitan  corner,  however  numerous  the  latter  might  be. 
In  any  event  the  Republicans  would  not  stand  for  change.  In 
a  final  vote  almost  purely  on  party  lines  they  continued  the 
restrictions  on  New  York  City  which  had  been  written  into 
the  constitution,  in  1894. 

To  their  credit  the  Democratic  leaders  after  this  rebuff  con- 
tinued to  take  an  active  and  largely  constructive  part  in  the 
convention.  Alfred  E.  Smith  was  especially  conspicuous.  He 
was  only  forty-one,  but  for  twelve  years  he  had  been  in  the 
legislature,  and  he  had  served  as  speaker  in  the  Democratic 
Assembly  of  1913.  His  detailed  and  sensitive  understanding  of 
the  affairs  of  the  state  was  of  frequent  effect  in  adjusting  gen- 
eral principles  of  reform  to  the  specific  .peculiarities  of  New 
York,  and,  in  spite  of  his  frankly  cordial  connection  with 
Tammany,  he  was  in  general  sympathy  with  most  of  the  pro- 
gram for  responsible  government.  Stimson,  like  the  rest  of 


the  convention,  from  President  Root  downward,  was  much 
drawn  to  this  knowing,  friendly,  and  constructive  critic;  he 
formed  for  Al  Smith  a  warm  respect  which  later  grew  to 

However  it  might  affect  the  sensibilities  of  the  Democrats, 
the  issue  of  reapportionment  was  essentially  not  central  to 
the  work  of  the  convention,  and  the  most  important  opposi- 
tion faced  by  Root  and  his  friends  came  not  from  the  Demo- 
crats but  from  a  group  of  men,  mainly  up-State  Republicans, 
to  whom  the  whole  program  of  responsible  government  was 
offensive.  Of  this  group  the  leaders  were  two — William  Barnes 
of  Albany  and  Edgar  Brackett  of  Saratoga. 

Barnes  in  1915  was  no  longer  Republican  state  chairman, 
having  wisely  yielded  that  office  in  order  not  to  face  a  fight 
over  his  re-election.  He  remained,  however,  the  undisturbed 
satrap  of  Albany,  and,  though  for  unity  he  had  sacrificed 
much,  there  was  in  him  more  of  principle  and  less  of  unadul- 
terated bossism  than  many  critics  saw — and  all  that  was  prin- 
ciple rebelled  at  the  new  ideas.  He  was  currently  engaged  in 
his  celebrated  libel  suit  against  Colonel  Roosevelt,  in  which 
the  latter  successfully  defended,  as  truth,  his  assertion  that 
Barnes  and  Boss  Murphy  of  Tammany  were  covert  allies 
against  popular  rights.  To  the  convention  Barnes  brought  the 
weight  of  his  up- State  following  and  the  convictions  of  a 
stern  conservative. 

His  assault  on  the  program  of  the  reformers  took  a  form 
which  has  become  familiar  through  the  years.  He  offered  an 
amendment,  short  and  simple :  "The  legislature  shall  not  grant 
any  privilege  or  immunity  to  any  class  of  individuals  not 
granted  equally  to  all  the  members  of  the  State."  It  is  an  injus- 
tice to  summarize  his  objective  bluntly,  but  so  unjustly  sum- 
marized, his  purpose  was  to  prevent  all  forms  of  "social  legis- 
lation"— minimum  wage  laws,  workmen's  compensation  laws, 
old-age  pensions,  and  the  like.  All  this  he  would  do  in  the 
name  of  equality,  and  he  described  the  road  to  serfdom  with 
energy  and  conviction :  "The  principle  of  equality  must  suffo- 
cate in  the  atmosphere  of  legislation  for  privilege.  The  sea  of 
experiment  on  which  we  are  asked  to  embark  offers  no  pos- 
sibility of  return.  It  is  not  within  the  power  of  the  human  mind 


having  secured  largesse — something  for  nothing — not  to  de- 
velop further  demands  for  acquisition  without  performance. 
.  .  .  The  certain  destination  involved  in  this  kind  of  legisla- 
tion will  not  be  the  attainment  of  the  socialistic  ideal  but  the 
tyrannous  autocratic  state.  .  .  ." 

Neither  the  socialistic  ideal  nor  the  tyrannous  autocratic 
state  was  of  great  concern  to  Stimson  and  his  friends  as  they 
opposed  the  Barnes  amendment  on  the  floor.  Their  attention 
was  centered  on  more  immediate  problems,  and  with  the  ener- 
getic assistance  of  the  younger  Democrats  they  attacked  Barnes 
from  all  directions.  His  proposal  would  reduce  government  to 
impotence ;  it  would  remove  from  the  state  all  power  of  con- 
trol over  matters  of  labor,  health,  and  social  reform;  it  would 
hamstring  government  in  emergency;  it  might  in  the  end 
so  undermine  the  prestige  of  the  state  as  to  expose  it  to  rebel- 

The  vehemence  of  the  denunciation  was  an  index  of  the 
amendment's  importance.  It  was,  for  all  its  innocent  appear- 
ance, in  direct  opposition  to  the  central  postulate  of  respon- 
sible government,  namely,  that  the  inevitable  movement  of  the 
times  had  made  more  and  better  government  a  vital  necessity. 
As  Stimson  had  said  four  years  before:  "For  the  very  purpose 
of  preserving  the  old  standards  of  the  citizen's  rights  to  his  life, 
his  liberty  and  his  pursuit  of  happiness,  it  is  essential  that  the 
arm  of  the  state  should  be  more  effective  than  ever  before; 
.  .  .  and  that  it  should  penetrate  far  more  constantly  into  the 
citizen's  affairs."4 

All  this  Barnes  denied.  The  cleavage  was  clear.  One  group 
would  entrust  wide  powers  to  government  as  a  matter  of  neces- 
sity and  right,  and  on  the  same  grounds  the  other  group  would 
deny  such  powers.  No  man  could  hold  to  both  philosophies, 
and  the  vote  on  the  Barnes  amendment  was  perhaps  the  most 
significant  in  the  convention.  It  was  beaten  more  than  two  to 
one,  but  among  those  who  stood  firm  for  laissez-faire  "equality" 
were  forty  Republicans  and  only  five  Democrats.  The  "federal 
crowd"  were  in  a  badly  divided  party,  and  the  division  was 
one  of  principle. 

Second  only  to  Barnes  as  a  leader  of  the  opposition  among 

4  Speech  at  Cooper  Union,  May  3,  1911. 


Republicans  was  Bracket*  of  Saratoga— a  statesman  of  the  old 
school,  as  he  was  the  first  to  admit.  He  was  capable  of  impas- 
sioned but  generally  good-humored  eloquence  on  every  sub- 
ject from  the  health-giving  waters  of  Saratoga  Springs  to  the 
iniquities  of  Tammany  Hall,  but  he  reserved  his  finest  wit 
and  his  sternest  oratory  for  two  subjects :  the  sins  of  the  "f ederal 
crowd"  and  the  splendor  of  the  legislative  branch.  He  was 
openly  opposed  to  giving,  any  member  of  the  executive  branch 
"any  power  worthy  of  the  name,"  and  he  therefore  strongly 
opposed  the  "short-ballot"  proposal  of  the  reformers,  under 
which  only  the  Governor  and  the  Lieutenant  Governor  would 
be  elective  officers,  other  executive  officials  being  appointed  by 
the  Governor  himself  and  responsible  directly  to  him. 

In  the  debate  on  the  short  ballot  Brackett  was  apostrophized 
by  the  Democrat  Delancey  Nicoll  with  the  sort  of  kindly  ridi- 
cule which  Brackett  himself  often  employed :  "Although  this 
amendment  goes  such  a  very  little  way,  it  has  excited  the  most 
intense  antagonism  on  the  part  of  ...  the  delegate  from 
Saratoga,  whose  oration  of  great  force  and  length  on  Saturday 
morning  denounced  us  all,  Democrats  and  Republicans  alike, 
as  being  engaged  in  a  conspiracy  to  steal  away  the  liberties 
of  the  people  and  establish  an  autocratic  and  oligarchic  form 
of  government.  He  said  .  .  .  that  we  were  pulling  the  whole 
temple  down  and  striking  a  blow  at  the  very  foundation  of 
our  Republican  system.  Ah,  I  must  say  to  my  dear  old  Cin- 
cinnatus  from  Saratoga,  the  old  order  of  things  gives  place  to 
the  new.  ...  If  this  convention  shall  pass  this  amendment  I 
want  to  say  this  to  my  old  and  venerable  friend  from  Saratoga: 
Content  yourself  with  the  motto  of  Cato  to  his  son :  When  vice 
prevails  and  impious  men  bear  sway,  the  post  of  honor  is  a 
private  station.5  Retire,  sir,  retire,  sir  ...  lie  down  to  pleasant 
dreams,  dreaming  of  a  heaven  where  they  have  elections 
every  day,  where  even  the  doorkeeper  in  the  House  of  the  Lord 
is  elected,  where  no  man  is  ever  appointed  to  office,  where  all 
ballots  are  long  and  all  terms  are  short,  where  only  the  spirits 
of  the  Old  Guard  that  never  surrender  are  admitted  and 
where  the  souls  of  the  ungodly  federal  crowd  are  stopped  at 
the  gate." 

Senator   Brackett,   with   his   remarks   about   the   "natural 


ferocity"  of  an  ex-Secretary  of  War  and  the  autocratic  pre- 
dilections of  such  politicians  by  appointment  as  Root,  Wicker- 
sham,  and  Stimson,  represented  more  than  himself  alone.  There 
were  many  like  him,  up-State  legislators  who  saw  no  good  in 
these  new-fangled  notions  from  New  York  City  and  Wash- 
ington. Few  of  them  were  in  the  convention,  but  their  weight 
outside  was  greater  than  it  seemed ;  they  were  leading  citizens 
in  their  counties,  and  skillful  in  the  matter  of  votes. 

Nevertheless  the  reform  Republicans  controlled  the  con- 
vention. They  were  the  chairmen  of  the  major  committees. 
They  were  the  most  zealous  in  attendance,  the  most  interested, 
and  the  most  effective.  The  house  at  No.  4  Elk  Street  where 
Stimson,  Parsons,  O'Brian,  and  several  others  lived  was  a 
center  of  constant  activity,  and  from  it  there  emanated  an 
atmosphere  of  energetic  optimism.  It  became  known  as  "the 
ice  house,"  for  to  other  delegates  there  was  something  a  trifle 
forbidding  about. the  righteousness  and  zeal  of  the  "federal 
crowd" ;  and  Stimson  himself  was  somewhat  amused  and  not 
surprised  to  find  that  once  more  his  opponents  were  calling 
him  "frosty."  In  his  own  recollection  later,  there  seemed  a 
warmth  and  sense  of  comradeship  about  "the  ice  house"  which 
was  rare  in  his  political  experience.  The  men  who  lived  there 
had  ideas,  and  they  believed  they  had  a  chance  to  apply  them 
practically  to  the  fundamental  law  of  the  greatest  state  in  the 

The  work  of  the  summer  took  two  major  forms — study  and 
discussion  in  committee,  and  debate  on  the  floor  of  the  conven- 
tion. It  was  not  till  August  that  the  committee  chairmen  began 
to  bring  in  their  reports.  The  short  ballot  might  be  a  familiar 
notion  to  its  earnest  advocates,  from  President  Wilson  down, 
but  in  a  committee  of  practicing  politicians  no  merely  evan- 
gelical appeal  would  do.  So  each  of  the  major  measures  was 
worked  out  in  long  sessions,  and  gradually  the  weight  of  in- 
formed opinion  was  brought  as  far  as  possible  to  support  the 
Root  program. 

To  Stimson  all  this  was  highly  educational.  Legislative 
labor  of  this  sort  was  largely  a  new  experience,  and  in  con- 
tending for  his  program  he  developed  a  new  respect  and  liking 
for  the  complex  arts  of  the  active  member  of  a  lawmaking 


body;  much  that  he  learned  in  1915  was  of  lasting  value,  and 
if  it  was  true,  as  Senator  Brackett  maintained,  that  his  inclina- 
tions were  naturally  executive  and  despotic,  he  nevertheless 
learned  thoroughly  how  much  of  human  kindness  and  per- 
suasion there  must  always  be  in  carrying  an  effective  majority 
of  any  parliamentary  assembly. 

From  committee  the  successive  amendments  emerged  to  the 
floor  and  then  in  long  and  serious  debate  each  one  was  fully 
argued.  Stimson  was  frequently  on  his  feet.  He  was  perhaps 
not  eloquent  but  he  had  a  firm  grasp  of  the  facts  and  a  capacity 
for  organizing  them.  His  major  effort  was  for  the  executive 
budget — indeed,  he  often  found  himself  regarded  almost  as 
a  man  of  one  idea,  so  zealous  was  he  in  its  advocacy. 

The  particular  importance  of  the  executive  budget  had 
come  home  to  Stimson  during  his  years  in  the  War  Depart- 
ment, where  he  had  been  forced  to  study  at  firsthand  the  con- 
sequences of  haphazard  financial  methods.  He  there  dis- 
covered that  routine  War  Department  appropriations  were 
in  the  hands  of  seven  different  committees  and  subcommit- 
tees of  Congress  and  that  the  authority  of  the  Secretary  of 
War  in  controlling  expenditures  in  his  own  Department  was 
negligible.  Mr.  Taft  indeed  undertook  in  1912  to  present  for 
the  executive  branch  a  general  budget.  The  opposition  major- 
ity in  Congress  ignored  it,  and  it  was  not  merely  a  matter  of 
partisan  disagreement.  To  the  legislative  mind  it  seemed  alto- 
gether wrong  that  financial  proposals  should  originate  in  the 
executive  branch;  it  seemed  a  wicked  interference  with  the 
legislators'  prerogative  of  appropriation. 

To  Stimson,  an  executive  mind,  it  seemed  that  this  legis- 
lative attitude  was  based  on  a  misunderstanding.  He  agreed 
that  control  of  the  purse  strings  was  a  legislative  prerogative, 
but  he  felt  that  the  essence  of  this  prerogative  was  in  the 
power  to  control  and  limit  expenditures,  not  in  the  power  to 
initiate  and  promote  them.  He  believed  that  expenditures 
should  be  proposed  by  the  men  Responsible  for  administration; 
the  only  likely  source  of  a  general  and  not  a  local  outlook  was 
in  the  Executive,  who  was  responsible  to  all  the  people.  And 
the  only  way  in  which  the  people  could  hope  to  unravel  the 
mysteries  of  governmental  spending  was  through  the  existence 


of  a  single  concentrated  financial  plan.  The  proper  function 
of  the  legislature  was  to  hold  down  the  aggregate  of  expendi- 
tures, and  this  was  the  very  function  least  fulfilled  when  the 
members  of  the  legislature  themselves  initiated  those  expen- 
ditures. In  the  logrolling  which  inevitably  developed  among 
its  members  when  the  legislature  originated  all  financial  pro- 
posals, it  was  left  to  the  Executive,  Governor  or  President,  to 
control  by  veto  the  financial  excesses  of  the  lawmaking  body. 
This  was  a  direct  reversal  of  the  proper  relationship.  In  a 
system  of  government  which  was  manifestly  unfitted  for  the 
increasing  duties  of  the  new  century,  nothing  was  more 
obviously  outdated  than  the  Government's  disorganized 
financial  methods. 

All  this  and  much  more  Stimson  said  in  his  speeches  to  the 
convention,  and  when  his  amendment  was  adopted  with  only 
four  dissenting  votes,  it  was  his  personal  triumph.  Under  the 
proposed  new  article  the  Governor  of  New  York  was  to 
prepare  and  submit  each  year  a  budget  covering  all  the 
expenses  desired  for  the  executive  branch.  His  proposal  was 
to  have  priority  over  any  other  financial  legislation,  and  its 
items  could  be  reduced  but  not  increased  by  the  legislature. 
The  question  of  financial  responsibility  would  thus  be  clearly 
assigned — to  the  Governor  when  he  got  what  he  asked  for ;  to 
the  legislature  for  what  it  denied  him.  The  major  financial 
problems  of  the  state  would  appear  in  a  single  measure,  to  be 
considered  as  a  whole ;  if  the  people  were  ever  to  have  a  clear 
appreciation  of  the  economics  of  their  government,  this  was 
the  way  they  might  get  it. 

Long  after  the  constitutional  convention  of  1915  Stimson 
retained  his  special  interest  in  the  idea  of  the  executive  budget. 
He  followed  with  care  its  growing  popularity  in  other  states 
and  in  the  National  Government;  he  assisted  in  its  belated 
adoption  in  New  York,  and  he  felt  some  pride  in  the  belief 
that  of  all  the  reforms  considered  at  Albany  in  1915  none 
made  more  rapid  progress  to  acceptance  throughout  the 
country,  and  none  was  more  generally  successful  in  operation. 

In  Stimson's  1915  amendment  there  was  one  provision  which 
deserves  particular  attention.  Although  not  generally  adopted 
by  those  states  which  later  turned  to  the  executive  budget,  it 


was  always  to  Stimson  one  of  the  most  important  aspects  of 
his  proposed  reform.  He  proposed  that  the  Governor  and  other 
officers  of  the  executive  branch  should  appear  before  the 
legislature,  in  person,  to  explain  and  defend  their  requests  for 
funds.  This  was  an  effort  on  his  part  to  strike  a  blow  at  the 
heart  of  the  system  of  divided  government  which  existed  in 
most  American  state  constitutions  and  in  the  Federal  Consti- 
tution as  well.  This  attack  on  the  separation  of  the  legislative 
and  executive  branches  was  violently  opposed  by  traditionalists 
and  especially  by  friends  of  the  legislative  branch.  Yet  Stimson 
always  believed  that  such  a  procedure  would  in  fact  increase 
the  power  and  dignity  of  the  legislature.  He  saw  it  as  a  means 
of  providing  frequent  and  accurate  reports  to  the  lawmakers, 
without  the  hullabaloo  which  too  often  attached  to  formal 
investigations,  and  he  saw  it  too  as  a  method  of  insuring  careful 
work  by  executive  officials.  He  knew,  as  he  told  the  convention, 
that  his  own  War  Department  estimates  would  have  been 
made  with  much  greater  care  if  he  had  been  under  an  obliga- 
tion to  defend  them  personally  before  Congress. 


While  Stimson  worked  on  his  budget  amendment,  other 
parts  of  the  reform  program  were  being  framed  into  amend- 
ments by  other  leaders.  In  the  end  thirty-three  changes  in  the 
constitution  were  accepted  by  the  convention  for  submission 
to  the  voters  in  a  referendum.  The  central  reforms  in  these 
amendments,  as  Stimson  saw  it,  were  the  executive  budget, 
the  shorter  ballot,  and  the  reorganization  of  the  executive 
branch  to  bring  its  various  departments  unmistakably  under 
the  Governor's  control.  Each  of  these  changes  was  a  major  step 
toward  increased  executive  authority,  and  thus  toward  respon- 
sible government  Second  in  importance  were  the  "home  rule" 
amendments,  designed  to  free  cities  and  counties  from  some 
of  the  restraints  of  control  by  the  state  legislature ;  these  amend- 
ments were  designed  to  have  the  dual  effect  of  giving  to  local 
governments  proper  authority  in  their  own  affairs,  while  re- 
moving from  the  legislature  many  of  the  local  problems  which 
distracted  its  attention  from  state-wide  issues.  A  somewhat 


distinct  but  similar  achievement  was  the  reform  of  the  state 
judiciary,  to  minimize  the  "scandal  of  the  law's  delays."  There 
were  many  other  changes  of  detail.  To  Stimson,  when  the 
convention  adjourned  in  September,  it  seemed  that  a  great 
constructive  work  had  been  done.  He  believed  that  the  amend- 
ments, taken  together,  would  move  New  York  a  long  step 
forward  on  the  road  to  a  simplified,  efficient,  responsible  state 
government,  and  he  looked  forward  hopefully  to  victory  for 
the  new  constitution  at  the  polls  in  November.  If  the  reforms 
in  many  particulars  did  not  go  as  far  as  he  would  have  liked, 
they  went  a  great  deal  farther  than  he  had  believed  probable 
a  year  before. 

And  for  this  result  the  main  credit  belonged  to  one  man, 
Elihu  Root.  It  was  the  signal  accomplishment  of  Root  that 
by  his  selfless  and  self-evident  devotion  to  the  improvement 
of  the  New  York  Constitution  he  set  the  tone  for  debates  and 
votes  in  which  thoughts  of  party  were  subdued,  give-and-take 
became  the  rule  of  action,  and  neither  the  best  nor  the  in- 
different became  the  enemy  of  the  good.  The  sense  of  high 
seriousness  which  animated  the  convention,  and  the  long 
thoughts  about  state  government  to  which  its  members  were 
aroused,  worked  through  those  members  far  beyond  the  sum- 
mer of  1915.  Probably  the  outstanding  value  of  the  con- 
stitutional convention  was  its  effect  upon  the  younger  men 
who  worked  there — as  Stimson  put  it,  'it  was  a  great  school 
of  government.' 

The  best  teaching  is  said  to  be  that  which  has  close  contact 
with  reality;  and  in  the  reality  of  dealing  with  such  unruly 
scholars  as  William  Barnes  and  Edgar  Brackett,  Root  and 
his  followers  were  forced  to  adjust  their  purposes  to  the  avail- 
able votes.  They  produced  the  best  constitution  the  convention 
would  approve,  but  their  thumping  majorities  were  sometimes 
proof  not  of  sentiment  for  reform  but  of  concessions  to  the 
unenlightened.  Thus  the  short  ballot  was  turned  by  hard 
necessity  into  a  less  long  ballot.  The  attorney  general  and  the 
comptroller  remained  elective,  the  former  as  a  concession  to 
the  lurking  popular  distrust  of  any  Governor  unhampered 
by  an  independent  legal  counselor,  the  latter  simply  because 
the  current  incumbent  was  a  man  with  many  friends.  Stimson, 


as  the  agent  of  the  compromise,  was  left  to  endure  the  good- 
humored  jibes  of  the  Democrats  and  the  scandalized  com- 
plaints of  the  thoroughgoing  reformers.  The  jibes  were  natural, 
but  the  complaints  seemed  to  him  less  justified,  and  throughout 
the  convention  and  the  campaign  for  its  adoption  he  was 
considerably  annoyed  by  the  noises  of  disgust  from  reformers 
in  the  outside  world  which  greeted  every  adjustment  of  the 
ideal  to  the  possible.  Some  of  these  reformers  were  his  friends, 
men  from  whom  he  had  learned  much  of  what  he  believed, 
and  their  failure  to  make  due  allowance  for  the  necessities 
of  the  situation  was  disappointing. 

This  gap  between  the  man  of  unburdened  principle  and 
the  man  responsible  for  action  was  one  which  Stimson  observed 
many  times  before  and  after  1915,  and  usually  his  sympathy 
remained  with  the  practical  man.  Each  case,  of  course,  was 
subject  to  a  separate  judgment.  He  himself  often  felt  that 
the  bolder  policy  was  the  better  politics,  but  his  first  inclina- 
tion was  always  to  defer  to  the  judgment  of  the  man  on  the  spot. 

Fortunately  most  of  his  reforming  friends,  men  like  Herbert 
Croly  of  the  New  Republic,  in  the  end  supported  the  revised 
constitution  and  energetically  joined  in  the  battle  for  its  adop- 
tion. It  was  support  from  conscience,  not  from  feeling,  but 
even  such  backing  was  very  welcome.  For  when  they  returned 
from  Albany,  the  sponsors  of  responsible  government  learned 
that  in  persuading  the  convention  they  had  done  little  to 
persuade  the  voters. 

The  central  difficulty  was  that  Stimson  and  his  friends 
lacked  a  mandate.  The  convention  had  assembled  under  laws 
passed  by  very  different  people  from  those  who  in  the  end 
controlled  it,  and  its  positive  reforms  were  not  the  result  of 
the  kind  of  prolonged  public  pressure  which  is  generally 
requked  for  constitutional  change.  Nor  was  there  time,  in  the 
eight  weeks  between  the  end  of  the  convention  and  the  state 
referendum,  for  the  kind  of  educational  campaign  which  was 
the  only  alternative  method  of  obtaining  popular  support. 
Such  education  requires  not  weeks  but  years,  during  which 
the  gradual  development  of  public  interest  enlists  the  support 
of  those  practical  men  who  wish  to  ride  the  tide.  In  1915  there 
was  no  solid  public  feeling  behind  the  reformers  and  a  clear 


field  was  left  for  the  enemies  of  any  part  of  the  revised  con- 
stitution to  attack  it  with  impunity. 

Thus  opposition  which  had  been  covert  at  Albany  became 
open  and  noisy  in  the  campaign.  Tammany  Hall  denounced 
the  new  constitution  from  top  to  bottom.  Samuel  Gompers 
and  his  American  Federation  of  Labor  found  in  it  thirteen 
fatal  flaws.  Stimson  inclined  to  believe  that  for  Mr.  Gompers 
the  really  fatal  flaw  was  in  his  failure  of  election  as  a  delegate ; 
however  earned,  his  opposition  was  violent.  Tanner  was  able 
to  hold  the  official  organizations  of  the  Republican  party  in 
line,  but  individual  leaders,  especially  up-State,  did  not  hide 
their  opposition,  as  Stimson  found  when  he  went  campaigning. 
Where  the  leaders  were  friendly,  he  found  large  and  friendly 
audiences,  but  when  he  arrived  at  Saratoga  to  speak  at  a 
mass  meeting  in  support  of  the  constitution,  he  was  urbanely 
introduced  by  his  incorrigible  friend  Brackett  to  a  hall  con- 
taining about  seven  citizens. 

The  professional  politicians  were  joined  in  their  opposition 
by  many  other  groups,  each  with  reasons  of  its  own — especially 
violent  opposition  came  from  city  employees  nervous  about 
the  effects  of  the  "home  rule"  amendments.  Much  other 
opposition  was  on  the  wholly  illogical  ground  that  the  con- 
vention had  omitted  some  desirable  amendment — it  was  like 
rejecting  a  new  shirt  because  you  also  wanted  a  new  hat 

The  mobilization  of  opposition  was  made  much  easier  by  a 
tactical  error  of  the  reformers.  In  their  anxiety  to  emphasize 
the  interlocking  unity  of  their  amendments,  they  had  bunched 
all  but  a  few  of  the  changes  in  a  single  proposal,  to  which  the 
voters  must  say  "yes"  or  "no"  as  a  whole.  With  no  driving 
affirmative  sentiment  for  the  reform  program,  voters  who 
disliked  any  single  item  were  tempted  to  vote  "no"  on  the 
whole  program. 

Two  other  factors  worked  against  Stimson  and  his  friends. 
Faced  with  the  problem  of  securing  popular  support  for  a 
general  program  based  on  unfamiliar  concepts  of  government, 
they  needed  a  great  teacher — a  man  who  knew  how  to  catch 
the  imagination  of  the  general  public  and  enlist  its  backing 
for  a  cause.  Stimson  and  others  earnestly  made  speeches  and 
wrote  letters,  but  they  lacked  the  ability  to  set  fire  to  public 


feeling,  and  the  one  man  who  might  have  done  it  for  them 
kept  a  stony  silence  down  in  Oyster  Bay.  Thus  there  was  no 
knight  in  armor.  Still  more  unfortunately,  a  work  which 
could  only  succeed  if  strong  public  interest  should  be  aroused 
was  undertaken  in  a  year  when  war  had  seized  the  center  of 
the  stage.  The  summer  of  1915  was  one  of  increasing  tension, 
as  America  watched  the  great  battle  in  Europe,  and  President 
Wilson  carried  on  his  intricate  maneuvers  with  the  Germans. 
The  Lusitania  had  been  sunk  in  May,  and  after  that  the  war, 
and  its  possible  effect  on  America,  far  outshadowed  the  prob- 
lems of  state  government  which  had  been  pushed  forward 
by  a  small  group  of  men  in  the  face  of  public  apathy. 

So  on  November  2  the  proposed  new  constitution  was  de- 
feated by  a  vote  of  more  than  two  to  one.  In  retrospect  it 
seemed  as  if  there  might  be  more  need  for  explanation  of  its 
400,000  friends  than  its  900,000  enemies,  so  great  were  the 
forces  arrayed  against  it,  but  to  Stimson  at  the  time  the  vote 
was  a  great  disappointment.  Still,  as  the  weeks  passed  and  the 
personal  hurt  faded,  he  began  to  believe  that,  in  the  end,  the 
work  at  Albany  would  not  be  wasted,  and  so  it  proved. 

Thirty  years  later  a  look  at  the  Constitution  of  New  York 
showed  the  following:  a  shortened  ballot,  a  reorganized 
administration,  a  stronger  Governor,  a  greater  measure  of 
home  rule  for  counties  and  cities,  less  purely  local  legislation, 
and  most  particularly  an  executive  budget.  The  similarity 
with  the  stillborn  product  of  1915  was  astonishing. 

In  much  of  this  later  movement  Stimson  played  his  part, 
from  the  side  lines.  But  the  principal  agent  was  Governor  Al 
Smith,  who  with  persistence,  good  humor,  and  great  skill 
guided  his  version  of  the  program,  piece  by  piece,  into  the 
fundamental  law.  So  largely  has  the  government  of  New  York 
thus  changed  that  for  a  generation  now  successful  administra- 
tion has  been  the  rule  and  not  the  exception  in  Albany,  and 
so  well  have  the  voters  liked  their  governors  that  not  since 
1920  has  a  candidate  for  re-election  been  defeated.  It  might 
be  stretching  the  facts  to  say  that  boss  rule  has  wholly  dis- 
appeared, but  it  would  certainly  be  fair  to  say  that  now  the 
Governor  has  become  himself  the  boss,  and  as  he  must  face 
the  voters  at  the  polls,  authority  and  responsibility  are  clearly 



The  constitutional  convention  of  1915  was  Stimson's  last 
major  labor  in  the  field  of  domestic  American  affairs,  and 
in  concluding  this  chapter  it  seems  proper  to  give  a  general 
summary  of  his  lifelong  opinions  on  American  government. 

His  basic  convictions  were  two — first  that  the  primary  and 
overriding  requirement  of  all  government  was  that  it  should 
not  infringe  the  essential  liberties  of  the  individual,  and 
second,  that  within  this  limitation  government  could  and  must 
be  made  a  powerful  instrument  of  positive  action.  The  primary 
and  essential  liberties  of  the  individual,  freedom  of  speech 
and  of  person,  were  on  the  whole  properly  protected  by  bills 
of  rights  in  the  federal  and  state  constitutions.  To  Stimson 
as  a  lawyer  with  experience  both  as  a  student  of  the  common 
law  and  as  a  public  prosecutor,  this  essential  restraint  imposed 
by  law  on  all  government  was  a  fundamental  principle  of  any 
decent  society. 

But  to  construe  this  respect  for  personal  freedom  into  an 
assertion  that  all  government  was  evil  seemed  to  him  absurd. 
The  power  of  government  must  always  be  superior  to  the 
power  of  private  citizens,  and  in  the  industrial  civilization  of 
the  twentieth  century  it  was  the  duty  of  government  to  provide 
for  the  general  welfare  wherever  no  private  agency  could 
do  the  job.  In  a  choice,  the  smallest  competent  unit  of  govern- 
ment was  always  preferable;  Stimson  preferred  the  township 
to  the  state  and  the  state  to  the  national  government.  But  often 
there  was  no  choice;  national  problems  must  be  solved  by 
national  authority. 

It  was  the  need  for  more  and  better  action  that  led  Stimson 
to  his  program  of  responsible  government.  This  was  essentially 
an  attempt  to  combine  democracy  with  leadership.  The 
democrats  of  the  nineteenth  century  had  feared  government 
as  the  tool  of  despotism  and  had  deliberately  made  it  weak. 
Stimson  and  his  friends  feared  weak  government  as  an  open 
invitation  to  private  despotism,  and  they  sought  to  restore  its 
strength.  Stimson  himself  never  feared  governmental  dictator- 
ship in  the  United  States ;  he  believed  that  the  temper  of  the 
nation  forbade  it;  with  a  certainty  far  greater  than  any  con- 


fidence  in  the  written  words  of  the  Constitution,  he  believed 
that  the  United  States  was  and  would  remain  a  free  country. 
On  the  one  occasion  in  his  life  when  a  President  seemed  to  be 
trying  to  throw  aside  the  restraints  of  constitutional  govern- 
ment, the  attempt  of  Franklin  Roosevelt  to  remake  the  Su- 
preme Court  in  his  own  image,  the  response  of  the  people 
confirmed  Stimson's  confidence.  And  even  in  this  case  there 
was  no  immediate  question  of  dictatorship,  as  he  saw  it 

The  essential  safeguard  against  the  abuse  of  power  was  the 
sentiment  of  the  people.  Against  invasions  of  basic  freedom 
that  sentiment  could  be  enforced  and  protected  through  the 
courts  and  in  Congress;  against  bad  administration  or  un- 
desirable policies,  it  could  be  enforced  at  the  polls.  To  go 
farther,  as  the  doctrine  of  separate  powers  had  done,  and  make 
the  government  weak  because  all  government  seemed  dan- 
gerous, was  in  Stimson's  view  a  plain  abdication  of  responsibil- 
ity and  an  open  confession  that  democracy  and  effective 
government  could  not  be  combined. 

So  he  turned  in  the  other  direction  and  framed  into  a 
concrete  program  his  personal  belief  in  the  value  of  leader- 
ship. He  would  make  the  Executive  strong  and  leave  him  free 
to  carry  out  his  program.  Given  such  freedom,  the  Executive 
could  be  held  fully  responsible  for  his  record,  and  he  could 
be  judged  at  the  polls.  The  voters  would  know  whom  to 
praise  or  blame. 

Nor  did  this  doctrine  imply  any  contempt  for  the  legislative 
branch.  What  Stimson  desired  was  a  system  in  which  the 
Executive  and  the  legislature  would  be  in  close  and  constant 
contact.  He  hated  the  nineteenth-century  predominance  of  the 
legislature  over  the  Executive,  because  he  believed  that  it  led 
to  weak  and  ineffective  government,  but  this  opposition  to 
what  Woodrow  Wilson  called  "Congressional  Government" 
could  not  fairly  be  construed  as  opposition  to  Congress  itself. 
The  Congress  to  Stimson  was  a  vital  instrument  of  responsible 
government;  its  basic  function,  however,  was  to  legislate  and 
to  control  appropriations,  not  to  administer.  Administration, 
the  exercise  of  power  in  action,  belonged  to  the  executive 
branch,  and  it  was  this  exercise  of  power  which  Stimson 
desired  to  set  free.  The  President  in  the  nation,  and  the 


Governor  in  the  state,  must  be  the  finally  responsible  political 
leaders.  The  constitutional  provisions  which  made  it  possible 
for  a  President  to  be  rendered  powerless  by  legislative  opposi- 
tion he  considered  clearly  wrong.  This  sort  of  stalemate,  which 
occurred  twice  while  he  was  in  Republican  Cabinets  and 
twice  more  when  he  was  in  private  life  watching  Democratic 
Cabinets  suffer,  had  no  useful  purpose  whatever;  it  was  a 
wholly  different  thing  from  the  legitimate  and  indeed  indis- 
pensable labor  of  an  active  minority  in  the  legislature. 

Thus  Stimson  believed  in  strong  government.  But  even  this 
belief  was  qualified.  That  the  President  should  have  great 
powers  did  not  mean  that  these  great  powers  should  always 
be  in  use.  Stimson  was  emphatically  not  one  of  those  who 
believed  that  the  best  thing  to  do  with  all  social  and  economic 
problems  was  to  dump  them  on  the  federal  Executive.  If  he 
was  a  progressive,  he  was  also,  he  thought,  a  conservative.  He 
believed  in  private  enterprise  and  in  decentralized  authority. 
He  particularly  admired  the  tradition  of  local  self-government. 
He  believed  in  the  rights  and  responsibilities  of  rich  men  as 
well  as  poor  men.  He  saw  no  reason  to  approve  the  notion  of 
a  nationally  planned  economy — economic  regulation  was  in- 
evitable and  desirable;  economic  dictatorship  was  not.  He 
believed  himself  a  democrat,  in  that  he  placed  his  basic  reliance 
on  the  political  wisdom  of  the  entire  American  people,  but  he 
never  posed  as  an  egalitarian.  He  was  not  disposed  to  assume 
that  labor  was  always  right  as  against  capital,  or  that  the  basic 
issue  was  always  between  the  House  of  Have  and  the  House 
of  Want. 

He  believed  that  the  Government  was  the  government  of 
the  whole  nation,  and  that  there  was  always  a  policy  which 
was  best  for  all  the  people,  and  not  good  merely  for  one  group 
as  against  another.  That  he  or  any  other  man  would  always 
find  the  right  policy  was  too  much  to  ask  of  mere  human 
beings,  but  the  test  of  purpose  remained.  The  best  political 
leadership,  as  he  understood  it,  was  that  which  appealed  not 
to  class  against  class  or  to  interest  against  interest,  but  above 
class  and  beyond  interest  to  the  good  of  the  whole  community 
of  free  individuals.  It  was  to  set  the  stage  for  this  sort  of 
leadership  that  he  worked  for  responsible  government. 


The  World  Changes 


^  I  AHERE  seems  to  be  little  doubt  now  that  August,  1914, 
_L    marks  the  end  of  an  era  in  human  affairs.  When  the  great 
powers  of  Europe  began  their  general  war,  the  world  turned 
a  corner. 

From  this  generalization  the  United  States  is  not  exempt, 
and  it  happens  that  Stimson's  life  shows  forth  clearly  the  na- 
ture of  the  change  wrought  by  the  first  war.  In  the  years  before 
1914  and  by  a  carry-over  for  one  year  thereafter,  his  pre- 
dominant interest  was  in  domestic  affairs.  From  the  death  of 
the  constitution  of  1915  until  his  retirement  in  September, 
1945,  his  public  activity  was  almost  entirely  devoted  to  issues 
arising  from  the  fact  that  the  United  States  is  not  alone  in  the 

It  is  not  easy  for  those  who  have  grown  up  since  1914  to 
understand  how  little  Americans  of  that  time  expected  any 
part  of  what  happened  in  the  following  years,  or  how  radi- 
cally the  texture  of  American  attitudes  was  changed  by  these 
events.  Of  course  the  war  was  not  the  only  source  of  change. 
The  vast  flow  of  immigration,  the  end  of  the  frontier,  the 
surging  challenges  of  industrial  development,  and  many  other 
elements  were  involved  in  the  changing  pattern  of  American 
society  in  the  early  twentieth  century,  and  there  was  novelty 
in  the  air  long  before  1914.  But  it  was  domestic  novelty,  and 
about  it  there  was  an  air  of  innocence  that  did  not  survive 
the  war.  To  Stimson,  as  he  looked  back  in  1947  at  the  years 
before  1914,  it  was  not  the  problems  but  the  serenity  of  life 
that  stood  out.  The  age  of  Theodore  Roosevelt,  for  all  of  its 


moral  battles,  had  been  a  time  of  hope,  not  fear,  and  con- 
fidence, not  worry ;  the  strenuous  life  itself  was  a  life  of  well- 
equipped  big-game  hunting,  or  else  of  soldiering  which  even 
at  San  Juan  Hill,-  its  proudest  hour,  engaged  only  the  young 
and  adventurous  few.  War  as  a  desperate  and  horribly  de- 
structive test  of  the  whole  fabric  of  civilization  was  war  un- 
thinkable in  1914. 

If  younger  Americans  found  it  hard  in  later  years  to  re- 
construct a  proper  image  of  life  before  the  first  war,  many  of 
their  elders  faced  the  same  problem  in  reverse.  "New  occasions 
teach  new  duties,"  but  the  lesson  is  a  hard  one  when  the  oc- 
casion is  unwelcome  and  the  duty  harsh  and  deadly.  Inexora- 
bly the  First  World  War  brought  the  United  States  into  in- 
timate connection  with  the  quarrels  of  Europe,  for  the  first 
time  in  a  century  and  for  the  first  time  ever  as  an  active  world 
power.  Most  of  Stimson's  later  public  service  was  devoted  to 
one  aspect  or  another  of  this  great  new  relationship. 

When  the  Austrian  ultimatum  was  delivered  to  the  Serbians 
Stimson  read  the  news  in  an  afternoon  extra  as  he  came  from 
a  political  discussion  of  "responsible  government"  among  Re- 
publican leaders.  He  never  forgot  his  wonder  as  he  read  the 
newspaper  and  realized  that,  if  the  Austrians  meant  what  they 
said,  their  note  spelled  war.  The  fearful  fact  that  an  Austro- 
Serbian  war  must  also  involve  Russia,  Germany,  France,  Bel- 
gium, and  Great  Britain  he  learned  more  gradually,  during 
the  succeeding  days.  And  as  the  struggle  developed,  his  atti- 
tude toward  the  American  relation  to  it  gradually  changed, 
as  did  that  of  most  of  his  compatriots. 

But  from  the  very  beginning,  Stimson's  sympathies  were 
strongly  on  the  side  of  the  French  and  the  British.  He  had 
lived  in  Paris  as  a  boy  while  his  father  studied  medicine  under 
Pasteur  and  other  Frenchmen;  Dr.  Stimson  had  begun  his 
studies  in  Berlin  and  had  quickly  departed,  disgusted  by  the 
martial  swagger  of  the  youthful  German  Empire.  Stimson 
had  thus  learned  from  his  father  to  mistrust  the  Prussians  and 
admire  the  French;  to  this  he  had  added,  from  his  own  ex- 
periences in  later  travels  and  in  Washington,  a  lively  respect 
for  both  Great  Britain  and  France.  And  the  German  invasion 


of  Belgium  was  so  evidently  cynical  and  brutal  that  it  at  once 
hardened  his  sympathies  against  the  Central  Powers. 

At  the  same  time,  during  the  first  year  and  more  of  the  war, 
Stimson  had  no  other  thought  than  that  the  proper  duty  of 
the  United  States  was  to  remain  neutral.  Through  the  winter 
of  1914-1915,  when  the  war  seemed  quietly  stalemated,  Ameri- 
can foreign  policy  was  hardly  a  major  issue,  to  him  or  to  the 
general  public.  But  even  the  joint  effect  of  the  Lusitania  sink- 
ing and  the  Bryce  "atrocities"  report,  in  the  spring  of  1915, 
did  not  drive  Stimson  from  his  belief  in  neutrality.  In  a  speech 
delivered  at  Carnegie  Hall  on  June  14,  he  shocked  many  of 
his  friends  by  the  violence  with  which  he  denounced  Ger- 
many, but  it  was  not  the  basic  war  purpose  of  the  Germans 
which  he  attacked ;  it  was  rather  the  fact  that  Germany,  in  her 
method  of  warmaking,  had  violated  the  rights  of  neutral  na- 
tions, first  in  Belgium  and  now  on  the  high  seas.  In  later  years 
Stimson  was  to  come  to  the  conclusion  that  the  basic  wicked- 
ness of  Imperial  Germany,  as  of  her  successor  the  Nazi  Reich, 
lay  in  her  complete  acceptance  of  the  use  of  war  as  an  instru- 
ment of  expansionist  policy,  and  he  was  to  have  a  leading  role 
in  the  assertion  and  development  of  the  principle  that  ag- 
gressive war  is  the  basic  crime  among  the  nations..  But  in  1915 
it  was  not  wafmaking,  but  Illegal  warmaking,  that  he  attacked. 

In  taking  the  position  that  he  did,  Stimson  was  of  course 
following  the  almost  unanimous  sentiment  of  the  time ;  it  was 
only  as  they  looked  back  on  World  War  I  that  men  began  to 
learn  that  in  modern  industrial  civilization  war  itself  has  be- 
come the  basic  crime.  Stimson,  in  June,  1915,  aligned  himself 
directly  behind  President  Wilson,  who,  he  said,  "has  stated 
and  defined  those  [neutral]  rights  of  our  citizens  with  clear- 
ness and  precision."  He  quoted  with  approval  the  concluding 
passage  of  Wilson's  note  of  May  13,  1915,  on  the  subject  of 
the  Lusitania:  "The  Imperial  German  Government  will  not 
expect  the  Government  of  the  United  States  to  omit  any  word 
or  any  act  necessary  to  the  performance  of  its  sacred  duty  of 
maintaining  the  rights  of  the  United  States  and  its  citizens  and 
of  safeguarding  their  free  exercise  and  enjoyment."  It  was 
only  in  his  parsing  of  this  sentence  that  Stimson  became  more 
explicit  than  the  President,  and  the  following  comment  had  a 


prophetic  accuracy:  "Now  'any  act'  may  include  force.  If  the 
Government  of  the  United  States  is  not  to  omit  'any  act  neces- 
sary to  the  performance  of  its  sacred  duty,'  it  stands  by  this 
declaration  pledged  to  the  use  of  force  if  Germany  persists 
in  her  attacks  upon  our  citizens  traveling  on  the  high  seas."1 
This  was  simple  logic;  as  long  as  President  Wilson's  notes 
could  restrain  the  Germans  from  unrestricted  submarine  war- 
fare, there  was  nothing  in  Mr.  Wilson's  policy,  or  in  Stimson's, 
that  required  American  participation  in  the  war.  But  the 
moment  the  Germans  definitely  adopted  as  the  official  policy 
the  method  of  the  Lusitania  attack,  the  United  States  was 
pledged  to  fight. 

Nor  did  Stimson  in  1915  consider  this  a  narrow  ground  on 
which  to  enter  a  major  war.  Much  of  this  speech  was 
devoted  to  a  careful  description  of  the  vital  importance 
of  the  rights  of  neutrals.  "The  progress  of  our  race  towards 
civilization  has  not  been  along  the  smooth  pathway  of  logic. 
We  have  not  succeeded  in  abolishing  war  in  the  name  of  its 
inhumanity  and  in  substituting  for  it  a  rule  of  peace  and 
reason.  Instead  of  that,  we  have  struggled  along,  gradually 
narrowing  and  restricting  the  area  of  war  as  we  have  grown 
less  and  less  willing  to  endure  its  ravages.  This  may  be  illogi- 
cal but  man  is  not  always  a  logical  animal.  And  so  we  have 
found  that  his  progress,  attained  in  this  halting  and  stumbling 
method,  has  been  more  effective  and  permanent  than  tons  of 
rhetoric  and  volumes  of  theory.  .  .  .  Now  by  far  the  greatest 
advance  which  has  been  thus  slowly  made  in  putting  brakes 
on  the  savagery  of  war  has  been  in  the  development  of  the 
.  rights  of  the  neutral.  .  .  .  Gradually  for  the  modern  world 
there  have  been  won  great  areas  of  neutrality  into  which  the 
clashes  of  belligerents  are  not  supposed  to  enter — buffers  of 
civilization  against  the  shocks  of  war — ever-widening  areas 
of  peace  which  are  full  of  promise  for  the  ages  of  the  future." 
Neutral  rights  must  be  defended,  even  at  the  risk  of  war. 

This  was  the  state  of  Stimson's  mind  in  1915,  and  his  po- 
sition was  shared  by  almost  all  those  who  were  prepared  to 
oppose  Germany  at  all.  It  is  another  measure  of  the  colossal 
effect  of  the  First  World  War  that  for  Stimson  and  many 

1  Speech  at  Carnegie  Hall,  June  14,  1915. 


others  its  devastation  served  to  effect  a  complete  reversal  of 
this  traditional  doctrine  of  neutrality.  In  later  years  Stimson 
many  times  argued  with  force  his  deep  conviction  that  in 
modern  war  there  is  always  one  aggressor,  and  sometimes  two, 
and  that  there  can  be  no  neutrality  in  the  face  of  aggression. 
But  in  1915  it  was  not  yet  known  that  the  wars  of  the  industrial 
age  were  terrible  and  devastating  beyond  all  predecessors,  so 
terrible  even  in  their  so-called  legal  forms  that  it  was  necessary 
to  describe  as  wholly  insufficient  the  historic  effort  of  "gradu- 
ally narrowing  and  restricting  the  area  of  war"  by  international 
law  and  neutral  rights. 

Even  two  years  later,  in  1917,  when  unrestricted  submarine 
warfare  was  resumed,  Stimson  no  longer  believed  that  the 
rights  of  neutrals  were  the  fundamental  issue.  Certainly  the 
submarine  attacks  were  the  immediate  cause  of  war,  but 
the  basic  enemy  was  Prussianism.  Unfortunately  nothing  in 
American  theory,  practice,  or  attitudes  called  for  war  on  Prus- 
sianism as  an  enemy  in  itself,  and  it  seems  entirely  clear  that 
if  the  Germans  of  World  War  I  had  respected  American 
rights  at  sea,  the  United  States  would  never  have  entered  the 
war.  Stimson  for  one  never  in  any  way  publicly  advocated 
entry  into  the  war  until  the  Germans  reversed  their  U-boat 
policy  in  January,  1917. 

What  he  did  advocate,  early  and  late,  and  in  vigorous  op- 
position to  Mr.  Wilson,  was  preparedness.  He  was  fresh  from 
his  experience  as  Secretary  of  War,  and  intimately  aware  of 
the  fantastic  weakness  of  the  American  Army ;  he  knew  that 
the  Army's  mobile  force  was  about  24,0x30  men,  and  that  these 
men  had  ammunition  enough  for  about  a  day  and  a  half  of 
modern  battle.  He  would  have  been  an  advocate  of  military 
improvements  even  if  there  had  been  no  war  in  Europe.  But 
the  European  struggle,  and  particularly  the  fact  that  the 
United  States  stood  pledged  to  maintain,  by  force  if  necessary, 
her  national  rights  on  the  seas,  made  an  increased  military 
effort  absolutely  vital.  The  great  professional  leader  in  this 
cause  was  General  Wood ;  Stimson  became  both  an  ardent  sup- 
porter of  Wood's  efforts  and,  as  an  ex-Secretary  of  War,  an 
active  preacher  of  preparedness  in  his  own  right.  In  1914  and 
1915  he  visited  Wood's  camp  at  Plattsburg  where  many  civil- 


ian  leaders  were  getting  a  taste  of  real  military  training.  In 
1916  he  enrolled  at  Plattsburg  himself  and  succeeded  in  shoot- 
ing so  well  that  the  doctors,  waiving  both  his  age  and  his  near- 
blindness  in  one  eye,  pronounced  him  fit  for  active  service. 

In  his  work  for  preparedness  Stimson  did  not  openly  criti- 
cize President  Wilson  until  the  middle  of  1916.  With  the 
domestic  program  of  the  New  Freedom  he  found  himself  in 
general  sympathy,  and  he  was  never  eager  to  criticize  any 
President  for  actions  in  the  field  of  foreign  affairs.  Secretary  of 
War  Garrison  was  a  firm  believer  in  better  preparation  of  the 
Army,  and  as  long  as  Garrison  remained  in  office  Stimson 
made  it  his  business  to  support  the  War  Department.  He 
particularly  approved  of  his  successor's  effort  to  build  a  re- 
serve force — a  Continental  Army — which  should  avoid  the 
state  politics  and  other  weaknesses  characterizing  the  National 
Guard.  Yet  Stimson  himself  went  farther.  In  speeches  during 
1915  he  regularly  made  clear  his  personal  belief  that  the  basic 
military  strength  of  the  country  lay  in  the  obligation  of  every 
man  to  defend  his  country,  and  he  pointed  with  admiration  to 
the  system  of  universal  military  training  in  effect  in  demo- 
cratic— and  neutral — Switzerland.  In  the  beginning  of  1916, 
in  the  speech  in  which  he  announced  his  support  of  Garrison's 
Continental  Army,  he  also  announced  his  personal  belief  that 
the  correct  basic  method  of  insuring  the  national  defense,  in 
peace  and  in  war,  was  "some  system  of  universal  liability  to 
military  training."  This  belief  he  never  thereafter  abandoned, 
and  in  early  1917,  as  the  war  crisis  approached,  he  became  an 
ardent  advocate  of  immediate  conscription. 

It  was  in  the  late  spring  of  1916  that  Stimson  first  became 
an  active  public  opponent  of  Mr.  Wilson.  For  this  opposition 
there  were  three  causes.  First,  he  was  strongly  opposed  to  the 
President  in  the  basic  matter  of  his  attitude  toward  the  war; 
though  Mr.  Wilson  had  succeeded  in  putting  a  temporary 
stop  to  unrestricted  submarine  warfare,  such  phrases  as  "too 
proud  to  fight"  struck  no  responsive  chord  in  Stimson's  mind, 
and  he  felt  too  that  even  a  neutral  nation  was  under  obligation 
to  take  a  moral  stand  on  such  an  act  as  the  violation  of  Bel- 
gium. Stimson  was  not  neutral  in  thought,  and  he  saw  no 
reason  to  be.  Secondly,  Mr.  Wilson  was  a  Democrat,  and  Stim- 


son  was  a  devotedly  loyal  Republican.  He  had  given  a  great 
deal  of  time  over  a  period  of  three  years  to  the  work  of  re- 
building the  Republican  party,  and  he  believed  that  this  party 
was  the  proper  one  to  take  the  helm  in  the  storms  he  saw  ahead. 
Finally,  and  this  was  the  point  on  which  Stimson's  personal 
opposition  was  strongest,  the  President  had  shown  himself  a 
very  halfhearted  believer  in  preparedness,  so  slack  that  Secre- 
tary Garrison  finally  resigned  in  protest  against  his  policies. 
The  President  had  deserted  Garrison  on  the  issue  of  the  Conti- 
nental Army  and  had  instead  made  his  peace  with  the  congres- 
sional supporters  of  the  National  Guard.  It  was  a  plain 
surrender  on  an  issue  Stimson  considered  vital. 

Stimson's  own  candidate  in  1916  was  Elihu  Root.  He  be- 
lieved that  Mr.  Root  was  by  all  odds  the  best  qualified  in- 
dividual in  the  country,  and  he  vigorously  rejected  arguments 
that  his  candidate  might  not  be  a  good  vote  getter.  He  believed 
that  the  crisis  demanded  the  best  man  in  the  party,  and  he 
found  that  even  Mr.  Root's  opponents  could  not  deny  his  su- 
perb qualifications.  But  neither  the  prodigal  son  T.R.  nor  most 
western  Republicans  were  willing  to  accept  Mr.  Root,  and  the 
nomination  went  to  Charles  E.  Hughes.  Stimson  promptly 
gave  his  full  support  to  Hughes,  and  he  was  both  surprised 
and  chagrined  when  Hughes  barely  missed  victory  in  Novem- 
ber, The  Hughes  campaign  was  something  of  a  disappoint- 
ment to  Stimson,  who  felt  that  a  more  vigorous  and  outright 
stand  would  have  been  more  successful,  but  nothing  in  the 
campaign  lessened  his  great  admiration  for  Hughes,  and  he 
thought  it  a  very  great  loss  to  the  people  of  the  United  States 
that  Hughes  was  not  their  war  President  in  1917  and  after. 
It  was  also  a  great  loss  to  the  Republican  party,  for  if  Hughes 
had  won,  there  would  almost  surely  have  been  no  Harding  era. 
The  year  1916  ended  with  Mr.  Wilson's  abortive  effort  to 
secure  peace  by  mediation.   1917  began  with  the   German 
decision  to  resort  to  total  war  at  sea.  Rightly  contemptuous 
of  America  s  military  strength,  and  wrongly  supposing  that 
they  could  force  a  decision  long  before  American  soldiers 
could  become  an  important  obstruction,  the  German  milita- 
rists decided  for  war.  Although  President  Wilson  was  appalled 
at  the  necessity,  on  April  2  he  called  for  a  declaration  of  war 


and  on  April  6  Congress  gave  it  to  him.  The  country  was  more 
than  ready  for  the  decision. 

The  resumption  of  unrestricted  U-boat  warfare  had  been 
to  Stimson  as  to  most  Americans  a  clear  signal  that  war  was 
coming.  He  had  quickly  abandoned  his  earlier  reluctance  to 
go  on  long-distance  speaking  tours  for  preparedness,  and  the 
declaration  of  war  found  him  in  the  middle  of  a  two-week 
swing  through  those  parts  of  the  Middle  West  which  had  been 
reported  least  enthusiastic  about  war.  Everywhere  Stimson 
and  his  colleagues  Frederic  R.  Coudert  and  Frederick  W. 
Walcott  preached  the  need  for  conscription  at  home  as  the 
only  way  of  destroying  German  authority  abroad,  and  they 
were  greeted  with  great  enthusiasm.  In  these  speeches  Stimson 
threw  aside  his  earlier  arguments  about  neutrality  and  for  the 
first  time  vigorously  discussed  the  basic  issue  of  the  war  as  he 
understood  it  both  then  and  later : 

"America  is  not  going  to  war  with  Germany  merely  because, 
as  one  of  the  accidents  of  the  great  struggle  raging  across  the 
water,  we  have  suffered  an  incidental  injury,  gross  and  unbear- 
able as  that  injury  may  be.  ...  It  is  because  we  realize  that 
upon  the  battlefields  of  Europe  there  is  at  stake  the  future  of 
the  free  institutions  of  the  world."  The  German  violations  of 
neutrality  were  merely  the  inevitable  result  of  the  German 
theory  that  all  rights  belonged  to  the  state.  The  world  was  a 
house  divided  between  those  who  believed  in  the  individual 
and  democracy  and  those  who  believed  in  the  state  and 

Thus  the  problem  of  war  and  peace  seemed  to  Stimson  to 
rise  out  of  a  still  deeper  problem,  that  of  the  basic  relationship 
between  man  and  the  state.  In  1917  it  seemed  clear  that  the 
war  was  essentially  the  result  of  the  Prussian  doctrine  of  state 
supremacy.  It  was  the  Prussian  logic  of  the  advantage  of  the 
stronger  which  had  destroyed  the  notion  of  limited  war.  There 
were  other  elements  in  the  war,  of  course,  but  Stimson  always 
believed  that  the  essential  guilt  belonged  to  Germany. 

And  in  later  years,  when  he  saw  the  rise  of  militaristic  dic- 
tatorship in  Italy,  Japan,  and  Germany  again,  he  found  no 
reason  to  change  his  view  that  the  primary  threat  to  peace  is 
always  from  those  nations  which  deny  individual  freedom. 


Nations  which  respected  the  dignity  of  the  citizen,  holding 
that  the  rights  of  man  precede  the  rights  of  government, 
seemed  not  to  be  disposed  toward  aggression,  whether  they 
were  have  or  have-not  nations.  But  where  the  state  was  the 
object  of  highest  honor  and  its  advantage  the  only  test  of  jus- 
tice, war  and  threats  of  war  seemed  to  be  the  normal  condition. 
If  the  world  was  to  have  either  freedom  or  peace,  it  must  de- 
stroy autocratic  aggression. 

This  was  the  issue  that  Stimson  saw  in  1917,  and  he  believed 
that  "Into  such  a  struggle  a  man  or  nation  may  well  go  with 
lofty  faith  and  burning  ardor." 

In  the  grim  aftermath  of  World  War  I  it  became  fashion- 
able in  some  circles  in  the  United  States  to  scoff  at  the  fiery 
idealism  with  which  the  country  entered  that  struggle.  And 
probably  it  is  true  that,  as  they  thought  and  spoke  in  the  terms 
of  which  Stimson's  speech  is  typical,  the  American  people  had 
little  real  concept  of  the  difficulty  of  the  mission  they  had  as- 
sumed. The  glowing  hopes  of  early  1917  did  not  long  survive 
the  armistice;  they  were  based  on  innocence  and  ignorance. 
But  it  always  remained  Stimson's  view  that  it  was  not  in  the 
war  but  in  the  peace  that  the  tragic  error  was  made.  It  was 
right  that  the  United  States  should  make  war  on  German  mili- 
tarism; it  was  right  too  that  this  warmaking  should  be  under- 
taken in  a  spirit  of  exaltation ;  but  it  was  tragically  wrong  that 
the  United  States  should  not  remain  a  member  of  the  team 
after  victory,  bearing  her  full  share  of  the  joint  responsibility 
for  peace. 

President  Wilson  clearly  stated  in  his  final  address  to  Con- 
gress that  the  issue  of  the  war  was  what  Stimson  had  said  it 
was  in  January,  and  in  his  analysis  he  went  one  step  farther: 
"Neutrality  is  no  longer  feasible  or  desirable  where  the  peace 
of  the  world  is  involved  and  the  freedom  of  its  peoples.  .  .  . 
We  are  at  the  beginning  of  an  age  in  which  it  will  be  insisted 
that  the  same  standards  of  conduct  and  of  responsibility  for 
wrong  done  shall  be  observed  among  nations  and  their  govern- 
ments that  are  observed  among  the  individual  citizens  of  civil- 
ized states."  This  was  the  naked  truth,  in  Stimson's  view,  and 
he  fully  recognized  Mr.  Wilson's  great  service  after  1917  in 
spreading  this  doctrine. 


But  there  was  one  man  who  had  preached  this  sermon  earlier, 
when  it  was  unpopular,  and  in  later  years  Stimson  believed 
that  of  all  Theodore  Roosevelt's  great  services  to  his  country 
none  was  greater  than  his  personal  crusade  in  favor  of  a  strong 
American  stand  against  Germany.  Colonel  Roosevelt  became 
venomously  embittered  against  Mr.  Wilson,  and  few  will 
deny  that  this  bitterness  detracted  from  the  grandeur  of  his 
preaching,  but  on  two  great  issues,  as  early  as  1915,  he  took 
stands  that  Stimson  considered  wholly  right:  he  was  in  favor 
of  action  against  Germany,  placing  righteousness  ahead  of 
peace,  and  he  was  in  favor  of  a  strong  organization  of  the 
world's  great  powers  after  the  war  to  keep  the  peace.  It  was 
true  that  even  T.R.  never  publicly  asked  outright  for  a  dec- 
laration of  war  until  after  January  31,  1917,  and  it  was  true 
too  that  his  hatred  and  mistrust  of  Wilson  later  led  to  a  disap- 
pointing weakening  in  his  support  for  a  League  of  Nations. 
But  to  Stimson  he  was  and  remained,  in  his  work  as  a  private 
citizen  in  1915  and  1916,  a  magnificent  leader,  and  it  was  with 
a  feeling  of  homecoming  that  he  accepted  the  mediation  of 
Robert  Bacon  and  responded  to  the  Colonel's  invitation  to 
Oyster  Bay  at  the  end  of  1915.  From  that  day  until  the  death 
of  Mr.  Roosevelt  three  years  later,  Stimson's  admiration  and 
affection  for  a  great  man  was  renewed  in  all  its  earlier  force. 

In  the  spring  of  1917  it  was  with  an  honest  sense  of  dedica- 
tion that  the  American  people  faced  the  war.  They  were  not, 
by  this  time,  ignorant  of  war's  meaning,  for  they  been  watch- 
ing the  Western  Front  for  more  than  thirty  months.  Yet  Stim- 
son found,  in  his  western  tour,  that  they  responded  with 
enthusiasm  to  his  speeches  in  favor  of  universal  training,  and 
when  he  went  to  Washington  on  his  return  Secretary  of  War 
Baker  thanked  him  for  the  speeches  and  said  that  he  felt  the 
issue  was  now  won. 

There  was  then  only  one  thing  for  Stimson  himself  to  do, 
and  he  did  it  On  May  31,  1917,  he  was  sworn  in  as  a  major  in 
the  Army. 


Stimson  joined  the  Army  in  1917  for  many  reasons,  but  the 
basic  one  was  that,  after  preaching  preparedness  for  years 


and  war  for  months,  he  could  not  in  conscience  remain  a  civil- 
ian. Though  in  some  ways  it  might  be  quixotic  for  a  man 
nearly  fifty  to  become  a  soldier,  it  was  the  only  way  in  which 
Stimson  could  feel  comfortable  in  his  mind.  And  of  course  it 
was  also  true  that  he  had  envied  combat  soldiers  for  many 
years;  he  realized  that  men  like  Justice  Holmes  and  General 
Charles  F.  Adams,  whose  Civil  War  reminiscences  he  had 
often  listened  to  in  Washington,  had  known  a  part  of  life  he 
wished  to  know.  For  nearly  twenty  years  he  had  felt  a  certain 
regret  that  he  had  not  been  free  to  go  to  the  Spanish-Amer- 
ican War,  and  this  time,  in  a  much  greater  contest,  he  did  not 
propose  to  be  left  behind.  He  heard  many  leading  citizens  of 
New  York  arguing  that  for  the  United  States  it  would  be  a 
war  of  money  and  supplies,  but  he  wholly  disagreed.  He  him- 
self was  urged  to  accept  a  flattering  offer  of  civilian  work  in 
Washington,  but  he  refused.  His  proper  place  was  in  the  Army. 

His  first  hope  had  been  to  go  as  part  of  the  division  of  vol- 
unteers which  Theodore  Roosevelt  planned  to  raise.  He  had 
spent  much  time  in  1916,  when  the  Mexican  situation  was 
tense,  helping  T.R.  with  lists  of  officers,  and  in  the  spring  of 
1917  he  waited  until  Colonel  Roosevelt's  offer  was  finally  re- 
jected by  the  Government  before  he  felt  free  to  join  up  on  his 
own.  Then  he  faced  a  problem;  he  was  forty-nine,  and  his 
only  field  experience  had  been  in  very  short  sessions  with  the 
National  Guard,  for  whose  training  he  had  as  little  respect  as 
the  sternest  professional.  How  would  he  equip  himself  for  the 
battlefield  duty  which  alone  would  satisfy  his  desires? 

This  problem  could  be  solved  only  in  gradual  stages,  as 
Stimson  discovered  after  discussing  his  situation  with  Army 
friends.  The  first  step,  obviously,  was  to  get  into*  uniform.  This 
was  quickly  accomplished  with  the  help  of  his  old  friend 
Enoch  Crowder.  General  Crowder,  the  organizer  of  the  draft, 
obtained  for  Stimson  a  commission  as  a  judge  advocate  major 
in  the  Reserve,  with  the  understanding  that  he  might  prepare 
himself  for  later  service  in  the  field  artillery.  He  was  assigned 
to  the  War  College  in  Washington,  and  there  he  spent  the 
summer  of  1917,  doing  three  things.  In  office  hours  he  worked 
at  the  War  College  as  a  staff  intelligence  officer;  in  the  early 
mornings  he  drilled  with  the  artillery  at  Fort  Myer;  in  the 


evenings,  under  the  direction  of  another  old  friend  in  the 
Regular  Army,  he  studied  the  duties  of  artillery  officers.  It 
was  a  strenuous  summer. 

But  in  September  he  got  his  chance.  The  field  artillery  was 
expanding  rapidly,  and  in  its  search  for  field-grade  officers  for 
the  new  regiments  the  Army  was  running  short  of  qualified 
men.  Stimson  had  not  hidden  either  his  ambition  or  his  studies, 
and  as  the  summer  waned  he  heard  that  his  name  was  on  a  list 
of  officers  recommended  for  promotion  to  lieutenant  colonel 
and  assignment  to  field  service  in  the  artillery  of  the  drafted 
divisions  of  the  National  Army.  Then  he  heard  that  his  name 
had  been  removed  from  the  list  by  Secretary  of  War  Baker. 

In  later  years,  as  the  partisan  feelings  of  1917  and  1918 
faded,  Stimson  came  to  have  great  respect  for  Newton  D. 
Baker,  the  Cleveland  peace  lover  who  became  a  distinguished 
Secretary  of  War.  But  he  had  strongly  disapproved  the  deci- 
sion to  reject  the  Roosevelt  volunteers,  and  in  1917  and  for 
some  time  after  he  believed  that  Baker  lacked  the  force  and 
knowledge  for  his  assignment.  It  was  not  pleasant,  therefore, 
to  find  that  this  man's  decision  had  barred  him  from  active 
service.  But  there  was  only  one  thing  to  do.  Stimson  obtained 
his  superior's  permission  and  requested  an  interview  with  the 
Secretary  of  War. 

Baker  received  him  openly  and  cordially.  He  had  removed 
Stimson's  name,  he  said,  because  he  did  not  want  the  Army 
used  as  a  source  of  glory  for  politicians.  Stimson  replied  that 
he  had  no  political  ambitions,  that  the  assignment  proposed 
was  one  for  which  he  had  diligently  prepared,  and  that  his 
military  friends  had  advised  him  that  he  could  serve  the 
Army  best  as  a  tactical  staff  officer,  assisting  the  commander 
of  a  field  artillery  regiment  or  brigade.  "What  is  a  tactical 
staff  officer?"  Baker  asked.  Stimson  explained;  Baker  said  he 
would  reconsider;  the  interview  closed. 

As  he  was  leaving  the  Secretary's  office  Stimson  passed  the 
open  door  of  the  office  of  Major  General  Hugh  L.  Scott,  the 
Chief  of  Staff.  Scott  had  been  away;  Stimson  saw  him  inside 
and  went  in  to  explain  why  he  had  called  on  the  Secretary 
without  Scott's  permission.  Scott  was  an  old  friend  and  fellow 
lover  of  the  West.  He  heard  the  story;  then  he  made  Stimson 


repeat  it  while  he  took  notes.  Where  would  he  like  to  be  sent? 
What  sort  of  duty  did  he  desire?  What  was  this  list  he  had 
been  on?  Stimson  tried  to  say  that  he  had  left  his  case  with 
Baker.  Scott  merely  repeated  his  questions.  Stimson  returned 
to  his  office,  and  within  an  hour  Scott's  aide  telephoned.  He 
reported  that  the  Secretary  of  War  had  approved  Stimson's 
appointment  as  Lieutenant  Colonel,  Field  Artillery,  National 
Army,  and  his  immediate  assignment  for  duty  with  troops  at 
Camp  Upton,  Yaphank,  Long  Island.  On  his  arrival  at  Upton 
Stimson  was  assigned  as  second  in  command  of  the  3O5th  Reg- 
iment, Field  Artillery,  yyth  Division,  National  Army. 

The  3O5th  Field  Artillery  was  the  unit  of  which  Stimson 
always  thought  first  in  later  years  when  he  looked  back  at  the 
war.  Although  he  was  twice  detached  from  it,  suffering  the 
disappointment  of  leaving  it  for  good  just  as  it  was  going  into 
its  first  offensive  action,  the  so^th  was  his  outfit.  In  two  three- 
month  stretches,  in  the  autumn  of  1917  and  the  summer  of 
1918,  he  acquired  a  deep  and  lasting  affection  for  the  unit  and 
all  its  members.  He  considered  it  a  remarkable  regiment. 

Most  of  the  officers  were  ex-civilians,  men  much  like  him- 
self, but  all  much  younger,  who  had  entered  officers'  training 
camps  before  or  just  after  the  outbreak  of  war.  Mainly  New 
Yorkers,  they  were  mostly  young  college  graduates.  They 
were  enthusiastic,  inventive,  and  impatient  to  be  at  the  front. 
Their  sense  of  honor  was  rigorous,  and  they  were  natural 
leaders;  if  the  method  of  their  selection  was  perhaps  less  dem- 
ocratic than  methods  Stimson  was  to  approve  one  war  later, 
they  nevertheless  fully  justified  their  privileges  in  training 
and  action. 

But  the  real  revelation  to  Stimson  was  the  quailty  of  the 
enlisted  men  of  the  regiment.  The  energy  and  ability  of  the 
young  officers  was  no  more  than  he  would  have  expected  from 
what  he  had  seen  at  Plattsburg,  but  he  was  joyfully  astonished 
at  the  work  of  the  drafted  soldiers  of  New  York  City  and  its 
environs.  These  men,  representing  almost  every  national  strain 
in  the  American  melting  pot,  had  had  little  experience  of 
heavy  physical  exertion,  and  little  formal  education.  As  a 
group  they  seemed  small  and  underfed.  But  they  had  other 
qualities,  the  qualities  that  make  for  survival  in  a  metropolis. 


They  were  quick,  resilient,  and  endlessly  resourceful.  They 
took  the  Army  as  it  came,  and  they  showed  a  capacity  for 
pride  in  their  performance  that  seemed  wholly  incompatible 
with  their  assumed  air  of  urban  cynicism.  The  men  and  their 
Plattsburg  officers  made  a  wonderful  team. 

The  initial  training  of  the  regiment  at  Upton  made  heavy 
demands  on  both  officers  and  men.  The  National  Army  paid 
the  price  of  unpreparedness.  There  were  no  guns  for  training, 
no  horses  to  pull  them,  and  no  wire  communications,  until 
Stimson  unearthed  a  little  of  all  three  through  grateful  clients. 
There  was  no  artillery  range  in  the  crowded  area  around  the 
camp  until  he  laid  it  out.  Other  shortages  were  filled  by  other 
officers  who  were  not  of  the  red-tape  and  clay-pipe  school. 
The  so^th,  Stimson  was  sure,  was  better  at  this  game  than 
other  parts  of  the  division,  and  the  division  was  better  than 
other  divisions.  This  may  have  been  mere  unit  pride,  but  it 
was  a  fact  that  the  War  Department,  having  originally 
planned  that  the  77th  should  be  a  training  ground  for  replace- 
ments, changed  its  plans  after  watching  the  division  develop. 
It  was  the  first  division  of  the  National  Army  to  enter  the  line 
in  France. 

But  before  that  time  Stimson  had  been  detached  and  sent 
overseas  on  his  own.  In  December  the  division  commander 
offered  him  a  chance  to  go  to  France  to  attend  a  school  at  Lan- 
gres  where  general  staff  corps  officers  were  being  produced  for 
the  new  Army.  It  was  a  wrench  to  leave  his  regiment,  but  this 
new  assignment  was  directly  in  line  with  his  hope  to  become  a 
tactical  staff  officer,  and  he  remained  fearful  that  someone  in 
Washington  might  decide  to  keep  him  at  home;  it  seemed 
well  to  move  toward  the  sound  of  the  guns.  So  Christmas, 
1917,  found  him  at  sea  in  the  war  zone;  for  the  first  time  in 
twenty-four  years  of  marriage  he  faced  a  prolonged  separa- 
tion from  his  wife.  He  was  to  be  overseas  nine  months;  the 
loneliness  of  those  months  was  beyond  anything  he  had  known 
before  or  was  to  know  again.  An  added  sadness  was  the  recent 
death  of  his  father.  But  Dr.  Stimson  had  visited  the  front  lines 
himself,  bringing  antitoxins  from  America.  When  he  sailed, 
Lieutenant  Colonel  Stimson  knew  that  he  was  carrying  on  as 
his  father  would  desire.  And  Mrs.  Stimson's  reaction  was  to 


make  strenuous  efforts  to  persuade  her  husband  that  she  too 
should  find  a  way  to  France. 

When  he  arrived  in  Paris,  Stimson  learned  that  the  staff 
school  was  not  ready  for  him,  and  he  was  attached  for  a  month 
to  the  ^ist  Division  of  the  British  Army,  for  training.  This 
training  period  with  the  famous  Highland  Division  was  a 
high  point  in  his  Army  experience.  The  5ist  had  just  com- 
pleted a  prolonged  and  costly  fight  in  the  battle  of  Cambrai. 
When  Stimson  arrived,  its  sector  was  quiet,  and  a  few  days 
later  it  was  pulled  back  a  few  miles,  out  of  the  line.  But  the 
visiting  American  found  more  than  enough  opportunities  to 
visit  the  forward  areas,  with  corps  or  division  officers  as  his 
guides.  Those  British  officers  had  an  attitude  toward  both 
bombing  and  shellfire  which  seemed  to  Stimson  unreasonably 
casual.  It  was  some  time  before  he  accustomed  himself  to  the 
unaffected  nonchalance  of  his  colleagues  in  the  face  of  fire. 
Granted  that  the  danger  was  not  prohibitive,  he  never  felt  it 
entirely  wise  to  prefer  an  open  road  to  a  muddy  trench  just 
because  one's  boots  were  clean  and  the  Boche  only  shelled  the 
road  at  fixed  intervals.  But  it  gave  him  a  taste  of  fire,  and  he 
behaved  like  a  perfect  guest;  when  his  British  hosts  threw 
aside  their  helmets  just  at  the  moment  when  they  might  be- 
come useful,  he  followed  suit,  and  when  he  was  told  that  three 
officers  were  safe  walking  in  an  observed  field  because  'the 
Boche  never  wastes  shells  on  less  than  four/  he  tried  to  be- 
lieve it. 

Whatever  their  idiosyncrasies,  the  Scots  knew  their  trade; 
both  as  professional  training  and  as  an  apprenticeship  in  the 
battle  zone,  Stimson's  visit  was  extremely  valuable.  And  as  he 
examined  the  casualty  reports  of  the  division  and  listened  to 
the  details  of  its  magnificent  record,  he  acquired  an  admira- 
tion for  the  British  nation  in  arms  that  lasted  for  the  rest  of 
his  life. 

His  class  at  the  staff  school  finally  opened  at  the  end  of  Feb- 
ruary. There  he  found  himself  among  friends;  the  officers 
studying  at  Langres  included  such  old  friends  as  Major 
George  Patton,  Herbert  Parsons,  and  Willard  Straight.  For 
twelve  weeks  Stimson  worked  as  a  student  of  staff  duties,  and 
worked  hard.  It  was  the  most  rigorous  professional  training 


he  ever  had,  and  it  served  him  well  both  in  the  following 
months  and  many  years  later.  After  his  successful  completion 
of  the  General  Staff  course,  he  always  felt  able  to  speak  as 
something  more  than  a  mere  amateur  on  military  subjects.  It 
was  fortunate  that  he  was  kept  busy,  for  only  hard  wrork  and 
high  hopes  could  keep  a  man  calm  during  the  spring  of  1918, 
as  the  Germans  launched  against  the  British  Army  the  first 
of  their  last  great  attacks. 

Graduating  from  the  General  Staff  College  in  May,  Stim- 
son  paid  a  brief  visit  to  the  26th  Division  on  a  quiet  sector  of 
the  front  and  then  repaired  to  GHQ  at  Chaumont  to  learn  his 
new  assignment.  He  had  given  much  thought  to  this  question 
himself;  should  he  go  at  once  to  duty  on  a  division  general 
staff?  Would  it  not  be  better  to  mark  himself  first  as  basically 
a  line  officer?  His  Army  friends  advised  the  latter  course,  if 
he  had  any  voice  in  the  matter,  and  fortunately  he  did.  Gen- 
eral Pershing,  at  Chaumont,  evidently  puzzled  by  the  prob- 
lem of  placing  an  ex-Secretary  of  War,  asked  Stimson  what 
he  wanted  to  do,  and  his  face  cleared  wonderfully  when  Stim- 
son replied  that  he  would  like  to  rejoin  the  newly  arrived  77th 
Division.  So  on  the  last  day  of  May  he  went  back  to  his  old 
regiment,  now  in  final  training  outside  Bordeaux  at  Souge. 

The  77th  had  changed  little  since  the  previous  autumn; 
Stimson  had  greatly  gained  by  his  six  months  of  separate  serv- 
ice, and  he  returned  with  the  glamour  of  a  relatively  battle- 
scarred  veteran.  He  had  also  learned  a  good  deal  about  artil- 
lery and  about  staff  work,  and  his  regimental  and  divisional 
commanders  made  energetic  use  of  his  extra  knowledge.  The 
last  weeks  before  the  division  moved  forward  were  very  busy 
ones,  but  Stimson  had  the  good  fortune,  as  an  elderly  and  pre- 
sumably trustworthy  officer,  to  be  ordered  to  Paris  on  division 
business  just  in  time  to  see  the  great  Fourth  of  July  parade. 

There  followed  a  very  crowded  week.  The  77th  was  or- 
dered into  the  line  in  a  quiet  sector  near  Baccarat,  at  the  south- 
ern end  of  the  front  Just  before  the  305^1  went  into  position, 
the  major  commanding  the  first  battalion  was  promoted  and 
removed  to  the  division  staff.  Stimson  took  over,  temporarily, 
and  on  July  n  his  battalion  led  the  regiment  into  position. 
The  same  day  he  gave  the  order  which  sent  off  what  he  be- 


lieved  was  the  first  shell  fired  against  the  Germans  by  the 
National  Army.2  The  305 th  had  begun  to  fight. 

For  the  next  three  weeks  he  was  wonderfully  happy.  To 
command  first-class  troops  at  the  front  had  been  his  pre-emi- 
nent ambition  since  the  beginning  of  his  service.  The  Baccarat 
sector  was  quiet,  so  that  the  hideous  side  of  war  was  absent.  It 
was  a  realistic  dress  rehearsal  for  the  work  which  all  were 
expecting  later.  There  were  one  or  two  alarms  and  tense  mo- 
ments, but  in  the  main  it  was  a  quiet  period,  and  Stimson's 
most  important  decision  was  to  disregard  a  panicky  request 
for  fire  that  would  have  brought  his  shells  down  on  American 
positions.  He  and  his  troops  kept  busy,  camouflaging  their 
position,  practicing  their  communication  signals,  and  getting 
the  hang  of  active  service.  As  they  worked,  they  began  to  feel 
that  heartening  self-confidence  that  comes  to  a  good  unit 
sometime  in  its  first  campaign  when  the  men  in  it  suddenly 
understand  that  now  they  are  veterans — now  they  know.  For 
the  only  thing  worse  than  the  fear  that  fills  all  battlefields  is 
the  fear  of  fear  that  fills  the  hearts  of  men  who  have  not 
fought.  The  so^th  was  not  fully  blooded  in  the  Baccarat  sec- 
tor, but  it  ceased  to  be  a  green  unit. 

And  then,  on  August  2,  after  only  three  weeks  in  the  line, 
Stimson  was  ordered  home.  The  order  was  a  compliment;  he 
was  one  of  two  non-Regular  officers  among  twenty-one  selected 
by  name  at  GHQ  for  promotion  and  the  command  of  newly 
formed  artillery  regiments.  And  he  left  a  unit  which  wanted 
him  back;  the  division  commander  placed  on  record  his  hope 
that  if  Stimson  should  return  to  France,  he  might  be  given 
command  of  a  regiment  in  the  77th.  Professionally,  it  was  all 
very  gratifying,  and  of  course  it  also  meant  that  he  would 
soon  be  with  Mrs.  Stimson  again.  But  it  was  a  disappoint- 
ment nevertheless,  and  a  grave  one,  for  it  meant  that  he  must 
leave  his  own  battalion  just  as  the  real  fighting  was  about  to 
begin.  If  he  could  have  foreseen  that  the  war  would  end  be- 
fore he  could  get  back,  Stimson  might  perhaps  have  broken 
his  invariable  rule  and  asked  for  a  change  of  military  orders 


from  General  Pershing.  But  in  August, -1918,  all  the  Ameri- 
cans in  France  were  talking  of  the  great  operations  planned 
for  1919,  so  Stimson  followed  orders  and  hoped  for  the  best. 
He  left  his  outfit,  and  his  fighting  service  came  to  an  end. 

The  remainder  of  his  war  service  is  quickly  told.  He  re- 
turned to  ^he  States,  had  a  week's  leave,  and  then,  on  being 
given  his  choice  of  the  new  regiments,  took  over  the  3ist  Ar- 
tillery at  Camp  Meade.  He  explained  his  choice  in  a  letter 
to  Herbert  Parsons :  "It  was  well  started  and  nearest  to  the 
coast  for  a  return."  In  September  and  October  Camp  Meade 
was  struck  by  the  flu  epidemic,  and  his  new  regiment  suffered 
more  deaths  and  casualties  than  artillery  troops  would  ordi- 
narily lose  in  a  major  battle.  Daily  Stimson  visited  his  men 
in  the  wards,  refusing  to  use  the  ghastly  white  masks  that  med- 
ical personnel  were  wearing.  It  was  a  grim  duty,  and  harder 
for  him  than  anything  he  had  seen  or  done  at  the  front. 

But  the  epidemic  was  short,  and  even  while  it  raged  the 
unit  was  busy.  To  train  and  lead  a  regiment  was  a  new  and 
searching  test,  but  these  were  good  troops,  and  although  he 
could  now  see  the  war  ending,  Stimson  kept  at  it.  This  time 
the  equipment  was  at  hand — he  even  had  a  band.  He  laid  out 
ranges ;  he  guided  his  officers ;  he  preached  unit  pride,  and  he 
could  feel  the  regiment  begin  to  come  alive.  He  also  had  more 
unusual  problems  to  solve :  to  fight  the  fear  of  flu  he  dosed  his 
command  with  an  elixir  guaranteed  harmless  by  Johns  Hop- 
kins and  advertised  by  Stimson  as  a  help  against  flu — and  the 
sickness  rate  did  go  down;  he  ordered  his  enthusiastic  but 
somewhat  unimaginative  band  to  stop  including  the  dead  march 
in  its  repertoire  of  hospital  music.  In  short,  he  did  all  the  hun- 
dred and  one  things  that  the  colonel  of  a  brand-new  unit  must 
do.  But  probably,  if  the  soldiers  of  the  3ist  Artillery  remem- 
bered Stimson  at  all,  they  remembered  him  for  this :  after  the 
armistice  his  was  the  first  regiment  in  the  country  to  be  dis- 
charged. On  December  9,  1918,  he  was  himself  once  more  a 
civilian.  He  later  joined  the  Reserve  and  became  a  brigadier 
general,  but  he  was  mustered  out  as  a  colonel,  and  for  the  rest 
of  his  life  "Colonel"  was  a  title  that  his  close  friends  often 

Stimson's  year  and  a  half  in  the  Army  marked  the  fulfill- 


merit  of  a  twenty-year  hope  that  if  the  country  should  have 
another  war  while  he  was  young  enough  he  would  be  able  to 
go  on  active  service  as  a  soldier.  Although  he  never  faced  the 
final  test  of  battle  in  a  great  offensive  or  a  last-ditch  stand,  he 
saw  enough  of  war  and  danger  to  be  able  to  feel  certain  that 
he  was  a  good  soldier ;  this  knowledge  was  important  to  him. 
And  the  war  taught  him  many  things ;  most  of  all,  perhaps,  it 
taught  him  the  horror  of  war,  but  he  also  saw  at  firsthand  the 
color  of  the  courage  of  British  and  French  and  American 
troops,  and  he  learned  as  he  worked  with  the  men  of  his  own 
Army  that  the  strength  and  spirit  of  America  was  not  confined 
to  any  group  or  class.  'It  was  my  greatest  lesson  in  American 
democracy.3  * 

*From  my  discussions  with  Mr.  Stimson  have  come  many  observations  and  recol- 
lections which  I  have  quoted.  In  order  to  set  off  these  remembered  comments  from 
passages  found  in  contemporary  records,  I  have  in  these  cases  used  the  single  and 
not  the  double  quotation  marks.  McGEORGE  BUNDY 


As  Private  Citizen 


IN  1919  and  1920  Stimson  was  a  private  citizen,  but  he  had 
an  active  part  in  the  prolonged  struggle  over  the  great  na- 
tional and  international  problem  of  those  years :  the  fight  for 
the  League  of  Nations.  The  rejection  of  the  League  was  to 
him  the  greatest  error  made  by  the  United  States  in  the  twen- 
tieth century,  and  it  happened  that  the  difficulties  involved  in 
the  struggle  were  to  reappear  more  than  ever  in  the  later  years 
of  his  public  service. 

Stimson  never  believed  that  the  great  rejection  of  responsi- 
bility which  took  place  in  1920  was  either  inevitable  or  due 
solely  to  any  single  group  of  men.  It  was  a  most  difficult  and 
complicated  subject,  and  the  events  which  led  to  the  final 
tragic  result  were  not  to  be  explained  by  easy  phrases.  There 
were  times  when  Stimson  inclined  to  put  the  weight  of  re- 
sponsibility on  Woodrow  Wilson,  and  other  times  when  his 
main  annoyance  was  directed  at  the  Republican  "irrecon- 

The  idea  of  the  League  and  the  specific  provisions  con- 
tained in  the  Covenant  were  of  course  the  product  of  many 
minds  in  many  nations,  but  to  the  people  of  the  United  States, 
in  1919,  the  League  was  Mr.  Wilson's  League.  In  Stimson's 
view  this  was  a  grave  misfortune.  Many  of  the  men  who 
should  have  been  among  the  strong  supporters  of  the  League 
of  Nations  had  become,  since  1914,  bitter  enemies  of  Wood- 
row  Wilson.  These  men  were  in  such  a  frame  of  mind  that  if 
the  President  had  presented  them  with  the  Kingdom  of 
Heaven  they  would  have  found  it  immoral  and  un-American. 


At  the  same  time,  as  Stimson  saw  it,  to  the  degree  that  the 
League  was  Mr.  Wilson's,  it  contained  certain  weaknesses. 
The  President  failed  to  take  with  him  to  Paris  any  leading 
Republicans — not  even  Elihu  Root,  who  was  pre-eminently 
fitted  to  go;  he  appealed  unsuccessfully  for  a  Democratic 
Congress  just  two  months  before  he  sailed;  and  when  he  got 
to  Paris  he  continuously  ignored  rising  reports  of  opposition 
at  home. 

Further — and  to  Stimson  this  was  his  greatest  error  of 
all — Mr.  Wilson  was  persuaded  that  he  must  produce  a  full- 
fledged  Covenant,  complete  in  all  its  parts  and  wholly  up  to 
date  in  its  assertion  of  the  joint  responsibility  of  all  the  nations 
for  the  maintenance  of  peace.  This  was  an  attitude  which  rose 
from  the  President's  own  clear  understanding  of  the  true 
meaning  of  modern  war,  but  to  Stimson  it  always  seemed  that 
in  his  obstinate  effort  to  enact  his  personal  version  in  a  nation 
which  was  learning  its  new  lessons  slowly  and  reluctantly,  Mr. 
Wilson  showed  a  terrible  lack  of  appreciation  of  the  political 
realities  of  the  situation.  This  was  a  point  which  he  often 
discussed  with  Elihu  Root  in  this  period,  and  it  seemed  to  him 
then  and  later  to  be  near  the  heart  of  the  failure  of  the  United 
States  after  World  War  I. 

The  great  lesson  of  that  war  was  that  the  United  States 
could  not  remain  aloof  from  world  affairs  and  still  keep 
the  world  "safe  for  democracy."  This  much,  in  1918,  was 
generally  known  and  understood.  What  was  not  understood, 
because  it  was  unpleasant,  was  the  kind  and  degree  of  re- 
sponsibility which  the  country  must  assume.  To  Mr.  Wilson, 
whose  mind  was  clear  and  logical  in  the  extreme,  the  im- 
plications of  the  new  doctrine  were  as  easy  as  any  other  new 
concept,  and  he  allowed  it  to  be  firmly  embedded  in  the 
famous  Article  X  of  the  Covenant,  under  which  member 
nations  undertook  "to  respect  and  preserve  as  against  external 
aggression  the  territorial  integrity  and  existing  political  in- 
tegrity of  all  members  of  the  League."  To  such  Americans 
as  Elihu  Root  this  provision,  unamended,  seemed  most  unwise, 
for  they  believed  that  it  committed  the  United  States  to  more 
than  its  people  would  approve.  It  seemed  very  improbable  that 
Americans  would  honor  this  obligation  in  the  case  of  renewed 


Balkan  struggles,  for  example,  and  Mr.  Root  and  Stimson, 
with  many  others,  argued  that  a  failure  to  do  what  was 
promised  would  inevitably  destroy  the  whole  usefulness  of 
the  League.  This  forecast  was  confirmed  in  melancholy  fashion 
by  the  actions  of  other  nations  fifteen  years  later. 

What  seemed  preferable,  to  Mr.  Root  and  to  his  student 
Stimson,  was  that  the  League  should  have  a  much  more 
general  charter,  and  that  it  should  be  permitted  to  grow  and 
develop  gradually,  adding  to  its  formal  obligations  only  as 
the  genuine  sentiment  of  the  nations  permitted.  In  this  fashion, 
they  believed,  the  slowly  growing  spirit  of  international  re- 
sponsibility might  be  fostered,  unchecked  by  the  disillusion- 
ment of  broken  pledges.  To  them  the  central  requirement  was 
for  a  constantly  available  international  meeting-ground.  The 
ancient  pride  of  sovereign  nations  could  not  be  ended  in  a  day, 
but  if  international  discussion  could  become  a  regular  habit, 
and  if  the  United  States,  particularly,  could  learn  to  consider 
herself  a  participant  in  the  world's  problems,  then  the  resort 
to  war  might  not  become  necessary. 

It  must  not  be  supposed  that  either  Mr.  Root  or  Stimson 
objected  to  Mr.  Wilson's  basic  purpose.  They  fully  agreed 
with  him  that  a  new  era  was  coming  in  international  law 
and  that  the  old  doctrine  of  neutrality  must  be  abandoned.  As 
Stimson  wrote,  in  February,  1919,  in  an  open  letter  to  Will 
Hays,  the  Republican  National  Chairman,  "The  time  is  surely 
coming  when  in  international  law  an  act  of  aggression  by  one 
nation  upon  another  will  be  regarded  as  an  offense  against  the 
community  of  nations ;  just  as  in  the  development  of  municipal 
law  a  homicide  has  become  an  offense  against  the  state  instead 
of  merely  a  matter  of  redress  by  the  victim's  family.  So  I  feel 
that  one  country  should  take  advantage  of  this  time  to  help 
move  the  world  along  towards  that  condition  of  development." 

Thus  as  he  faced  the  problem  of  the  League  of  Nations  and 
its  draft  Covenant  in  March,  1919,  Stimson  had  a  double  atti- 
tude. First  and  foremost,  he  was  unequivocally  in  favor  of 
American  participation  in  the  League.  But  secondly,  he  was 
opposed  to  unreserved  ratification  of  the  Covenant,  and  partic- 
ularly to  the  acceptance  of  Article  X.  And  Mr.  Wilson  and 


the  Senate  "irreconcilables"  between  them  blocked  the  way 
to  ratification  of  the  sort  of  League  he  wanted. 

Stimson's  position  was  best  expressed  in  the  reservations 
proposed  by  Elihu  Root  in  June,  1919,  and  he  never  retreated 
from  his  belief  that  ratification  with  the  Root  reservations 
would  have  been  the  best  course.  Unfortunately  the  agent  of 
the  Root  position  in  the  Senate  was  Henry  Cabot  Lodge. 
Lodge  himself  was  probably  not  at  first  an  "irreconcilable" ; 
but  he  was  the  Senate  majority  leader,  and  his  principal  ob- 
ject in  life  was  to  hold  the  Republican  party  together.  To  do 
this,  he  moved  farther  and  farther  in  the  direction  of  such 
bitter-end  opponents  of  any  and  all  Leagues  as  William  E. 
Borah,  Hiram  Johnson,  and  Frank  B.  Brandegee.  The  Root 
reservations  did  not  reach  the  Senate  floor  unchanged. 
Through  the  summer  of  1919  the  Senate  Foreign  Relations 
Committee  under  Lodge  sat  on  the  treaty  and  waited  for  pub- 
lic support  of  Mr.  Wilson's  League  to  die  down.  In  Novem- 
ber, when  the  mind  of  the  country  had  been  thoroughly  con- 
fused and  Mr.  Wilson's  health  was  giving  way,  Lodge  brought 
to  the  vote  a  treaty  loaded  with  his  own,  the  Lodge  reserva- 
tions. There  was  something  in  the  Lodge  reservations  for 
everybody;  all  of  Mr.  Root's  basic  ideas  were  there,  but  so 
were  many  more,  designed  partly  to  appease  nationalists  and 
partly  to  anger  Mr.  Wilson.  To  Stimson  the  Lodge  reserva- 
tions, taken  together,  were  wholly  unsatisfactory,  "very  harsh 
and  unpleasant  in  tone."  (Diary  December  3,  1919)  His  view 
was  the  view  of  many  a  Republican,  and  he  always  believed 
that  if  the  moderate  Republican  senators  and  the  President 
had  been  able  to  get  together,  a  satisfactory  compromise  could 
have  been  reached.  But  there  was  no  outstanding  leader  to 
show  the  way  to  the  Republican  moderates,  and  on  his  side 
the  ailing  Wilson  proved  more  stubborn  than  ever.  The  Dem- 
ocrats voted  solidly  against  ratification  with  the  Lodge  reser- 
vations, and  the  treaty  went  unratified. 

Throughout  1920  Stimson  continued  to  hope  for  ratification 
of  one  kind  or  another.  And  if  in  1919  his  principal  complaint 
was  against  Wilson,  in  1920  he  began  to  feel  that  his  real 
enemies  were  the  Republican  die-hards.  In  the  preconvention 
campaign  he  strongly  supported  the  candidacy  of  his  friend 


Leonard  Wood,  who  was  in  his  view  the  most  commanding 
national  leader  available.  Wood  was  a  believer  in  a  modified 
League,  and  he  was  not  the  man  to  sell  out  to  the  die-hards. 
But  in  the  notorious  Chicago  convention  of  1920  the  die-hard 
senators  threw  the  nomination  to  Warren  G.  Harding. 

Then  Stimson,  in  company  with  almost  all  the  leaders  of  his 
party,  made  a  serious  mistake,  one  which  he  characterized  in 
1947  as  'a  blunder.'  He  supported  Harding,  on  the  ground 
that  Harding's  election  would  mean  ratification  with  proper 
reservations  as  to  Article  X,  and  he  joined  in  the  signing  of 
the  famous  Statement  of  Thirty-one  Republicans,  which 
urged  the  election  of  Harding  as  the  best  way  into  the  League. 
This  statement,  partly  designed  to  strengthen  Harding's  in- 
clination toward  the  League  but  mainly  written  to  keep  pro- 
League  voters  in  the  Republican  party,  represented  the  honest 
sentiments  and  hopes  of  the  loyal  Republicans  who  signed  it. 
Events  soon  proved  that  these  men  were  deceived  and 
their  hopes  unfounded.  Stimson  had  his  moments  of  misgiving 
during  the  campaign  and  regularly  denounced  the  Republi- 
can "irreconcilables."  But  in  later  years  the  man  whose  posi- 
tion he  admired  most  in  the  1920  campaign  was  Herbert  Par- 
sons, who  left  the  party  on  the  League  issue.  Parsons  and 
Stimson  had  worked  together  in  New  York  in  early  1920  to 
strengthen  the  pro-League  wing  of  the  Republican  party;  in 
late  1919  when  Parsons  first  discussed  the  possibility  of  a  bolt, 
Stimson  had  expressed  his  sympathy.  "I  told  him  that  ...  if 
the  situation  ever  came  to  a  point  where  the  Republican  party 
stood  for  a  selfish  isolation  of  America  as  against  a  participa- 
tion in  the  burdens  of  the  world  at  the  present  time  by  this 
country,  I  should  certainly  vote  against  the  Republican 
party."  (Diary,  November  26,  1919)  In  the  campaign  of  1920 
Stimson  and  most  of  his  friends  were  self-deceived.  Parsons 
was  not;  he  saw  through  the  double-talk  of  Harding  and  de- 
liberately broke  with  the  Republicans  to  support  Cox.  For  a 
man  whose  whole  public  career  had  been  built  on  solid  Re- 
publicanism and  whose  experience  was  largely  in  the  mechan- 
ics of  party  organization  and  discipline,  it  was  a  bold  and 
gallant  decision.  When  Herbert  Parsons  died,  five  years 
later,  Stimson  wrote  of  him :  "He  never  performed  a  greater 


act  of  courage  or  of  self-abnegation  than  in  making  his  deci- 
sion to  leave  the  party  in  which  he  had  labored  so  long  and  on 
whose  welfare  and  progress  the  efforts  of  his  whole  life  had 
been  expended.  His  spirit  was  that  of  a  crusader.  Well  would 
it  have  been  for  us  if  more  of  that  spirit  had  characterized  the 
postwar  attitude  of  us  all  towards  our  governmental  prob- 

Yet  from  another  standpoint,  it  was  probably  fortunate  for 
Stimson's  later  usefulness  that  he  did  not  follow  Parsons  in 
1920.  If  he  had  broken  with  his  party,  he  would  in  all  prob- 
ability not  have  been  called  back  to  public  service  at  any  time 
in  the  following  twelve  years,  and  it  is  not  likely  that  he  could 
ever  have  made  himself  a  leading  Democrat.  Parsons  himself 
lost  much  of  his  former  prestige  and  influence  after  1920, 
whereas  Stimson  had  the  good  fortune  to  be  able  to  work  for 
the  principles  both  believed  in,  first  as  a  private  citizen  and 
later  in  public  life.  The  problem  both  men  faced  in  1920  was 
one  of  those  trying  cases  which  have  no  certain  answer;  no 
decision  in  American  political  life  is  more  difficult  than  the 
choice  of  whether  or  not  to  leave  one's  party.  What  Stimson 
regretted,  looking  back  at  1920,  was  not  his  decision  to  remain 
a  Republican ;  for  that  there  was  probably  sound  justification. 
What  he  could  not  forgive  was  his  honest  but  wholly  mistaken 
conclusion  that  Harding's  election  was  desirable  from  the 
standpoint  of  those  who  believed  in  the  League  of  Nations. 
He  had  signed  the  letter  of  the  thirty-one  in  response  to  the 
leadership  of  men  like  Elihu  Root,  and  in  this  decision  he  had 
distinguished  company.  But  he  would  have  done  better  not  to 
sign  that  letter  and  not  to  write,  as  he  had,  opposing  the  posi- 
tion taken  by  Parsons.  He  would  have  done  better  to  keep  still. 

With  the  election  of  President  Harding,  all  hope  of  Amer- 
ican participation  in  the  League  soon  died.  In  the  years  that 
followed,  the  temper  of  the  American  people  became  con- 
stantly more  isolationist,  and  the  penalty  of  this  error  was  vis- 
ited upon  the  nation  and  the  world  in  later  events  which  will 
occupy  the  bulk  of  this  book.  What  killed  the  League  in 
America?  Was  it  the  blindness  of  its  creator  or  the  malevolent 
skill  of  its  few  wholehearted  enemies?  To  Stimson  it  was  al- 
ways both,  but  he  could  see  in  1947  what  as  a  loyal  Republican 

1  Letter  to  the  New  York  Times,  September  23,  1925. 


he  had  missed  in  1920,  that  in  the  errors  of  Woodrow  Wilson 
there  was  always  a  certain  prophetic  grandeur.  Even  if  he  was 
wrong  on  Article  X,  he  was  wrong  in  the  right  direction.  And 
his  stubbornness  was  the  stubbornness  of  high  principle.  For 
the  men  who  hated  the  very  notion  of  a  League  Stimson  would 
not  speak  so  kindly.  They  must  have  been  sincere,  but  it  was  a 
sincerity  of  purblind  and  admitted  nationalistic  selfishness, 
a  sincerity  of  ignorant  refusal  to  admit  that  the  world 
changes,  a  sincerity  embittered  in  almost  every  case  by  a  hatred 
of  the  foreigner.  It  was  the  sort  of  sincerity,  in  short,  from 
which  wars  are  bred.  And  it  bred  one. 

2.   AT  THE  BAR 

Warren  G.  Harding  was  the  only  President  between  Theo- 
dore Roosevelt  and  Harry  S.  Truman  under  whom  Stimson 
took  no  federal  oath  of  office.  He  shared  the  oblivion  which 
overtook  most  of  the  younger  eastern  Republicans  during  the 
early  1 920*8.  He  did  not  feel  any  grievance  on  this  account, 
nor  was  he  ever  inclined  to  judge  harshly  the  well-meaning 
man  whom  kingmakers  had  thrust  into  an  office  he  was  wholly 
unequipped  to  fill.  Toward  the  men  in  the  Harding  adminis- 
tration whose  active  corruption  completed  the  ten-year  decline 
of  his  party's  standing  before  the  country,  he  was  less  charita- 
ble, and  he  was  glad  that  the  work  of  cleaning  the  stables  was 
in  the  end  largely  accomplished  by  Republican  lawyers  like 
Harlan  Stone  and  Owen  Roberts,  though  the  initial  disclo- 
sures of  corruption  were  made  by  zealous  and  distinguished 

Between  1918  and  1927  Stimson  held  no  federal  office  of 
any  kind,  yet  he  retained  his  interest  in  public  affairs.  He  was 
active  in  behalf  of  his  favorite  reform,  the  executive  budget; 
both  in  New  York  and  in  Washington  he  argued  and  testified 
for  its  adoption.  As  one  of  the  early  members  of  the  American 
Legion  he  was  a  stern  and  outspoken  opponent  of  the  bonus. 
As  a  New  York  lawyer  he  protested  when  in  the  red  scare  of 
1920  the  New  York  Assembly  refused  to  seat  duly  elected  So- 
cialist members;  this  protest  contains  a  principle  which 
seemed  to  him  of  some  importance  in  1947: 


"I  am  one  of  those  who  believe  that  our  American  system  of 
government  is,  as  a  whole,  the  best  that  has  yet  been  devised 
upon  this  earth,  and  I  have  not  the  slightest  sympathy  with  or 
faith  in  the  tenets  of  Socialism.  Yet  even  I  can  think  of  some 
matters  in  which  I  believe  our  government  can  be  improved, 
and  I  hope  during  the  remainder  of  my  life  to  be  free  to  urge 
upon  my  fellow  citizens  the  desirability  of  the  changes  and 
reforms  that  I  think  desirable  to  make  life  in  America  more 
just,  more  fair,  and  more  happy  for  the  average  man.  If  I  be- 
lieve this,  what  right  have  I  to  deny  to  the  man  who  believes 
in  Socialism  or  in  a  soviet  government  the  opportunity  of  en- 
deavoring to  persuade  a  majority  of  the  inhabitants  of  Amer- 
ica that  a  government  and  a  society  framed  according  to  his 
beliefs  will  be  best  for  America — provided  always  he  confines 
himself  to  the  democratic  methods  of  peaceful  persuasion  to 
accomplish  his  ends?"2 

Protests  of  this  kind,  and  action  wherever  necessary  in  de- 
fense of  basic  liberties,  always  seemed  to  Stimson  a  duty  par- 
ticularly incumbent  on  members  of  the  bar.  It  was  as  a  private 
lawyer  that  he  wrote  this  letter,  and  it  was  as  a  private  lawyer 
that  he  spent  the  bulk  of  his  time  in  the  years  after  World 
War  I. 

For  the  first  time  in  more  than  a  decade,  his  private  practice 
became  his  primary  interest.  He  returned  from  the  war  to  find 
that  as  the  head  of  the  family,  after  his  father's  death,  he  had 
increased  financial  responsibilities,  and  in  the  following  eight 
years  he  undertook  a  series  of  major  cases.  He  also  attended 
with  care  and  energy  to  his  private  investments  and  became  in 
this  period  a  rich  man.  After  1928  his  private  affairs  never 
again  became  his  leading  interest,  but  the  financial  freedom 
which  he  achieved  in  the  postwar  decade  was  sustained  and 
protected  for  him  by  devoted  friends. 

This  book  is  a  record  of  Stimson's  public  service,  and  we 
unfortunately  cannot  stop  to  consider  the  ins  and  outs  of  even 
his  major  law  cases.  He  defended  the  makers  of  cement  against 
an  antitrust  suit;  he  handled  one  side  of  the  celebrated  South- 
mayd  Will  case;  he  was  retained  by  the  bituminous  coal 
operators  to  file  a  brief  before  a  Government  commission  in- 

2  Letter  to  the  New  York  Tribune,  published  January  16,  1920. 


vestigating  the  coal  industry.  Both  the  cement  case  and  the 
coal  case  were  affected  with  a  public  interest,  and  in  both 
cases  Stimson  found  his  basic  opinion  reinforced  by  his  expe- 
rience. The  cement  case  wTas  an  excellent  illustration  of  the 
dangers  of  "government  by  indictment";  the  cement  com- 
panies were  guilty,  under  the  letter  of  the  law,  but  what  they 
had  done  had  been  part  of  the  wrar  effort,  with  the  direct  en- 
couragement of  the  Government. 

The  coal  brief  \vas  a  study  in  industrial  strife.  The  burden 
of  Stimson's  argument  was  that  members  of  the  United  Mine 
Workers,  under  John  L.  Lewis,  had  been  guilty  of  outrageous 
crimes  of  violence,  culminating  in  the  hideous  massacre  of 
1922  at  Herrin,  Illinois.  The  self -proclaimed  "liberals"  who 
were  always  ready  to  do  battle  against  the  use  of  force  by 
owners  seemed  to  Stimson  disgracefully  quiet  in  their  placid 
contemplation  of  such  lawlessness  as  the  Herrin  affair.  At  the 
same  time  his  study  of  the  coal  industry  and  his  dealings  with 
the  coal  operators  showed  him  that  on  both  sides  of  the  fence 
there  was  a  history  of  ruthlessness,  and  in  a  sense  the  irrespon- 
sibility of  capital  struck  him  as  the  more  culpable,  because  he 
continued  to  believe  that  men  of  wealth  and  power  had  special 
obligations  to  the  community. 

The  i92o's  are  remembered  now  mainly  as  a  time  of  false 
hopes  and  national  complacency.  Stimson  could  not  claim,  in 
1947,  that  he  had  foreseen  the  breakdown  that  occurred  in 
1929,  or  that  during  the  twenties  he  was  fully  aware  of  the 
degree  to  which  the  work  of  reform  remained  unfinished.  But 
he  thought  it  wrong  to  set  those  years  and  their  achievement 
entirely  to  one  side.  For  this  was  a  time  of  industrial  expan- 
sion, and  of  economic  development,  as  well  as  a  time  of  ex- 
travagance and  irresponsibility.  The  country  was  complacent, 
yet  its  accomplishment  was  not  negligible.  In  these  years  pri- 
vate philanthropy  and  private  charity  flourished  as  never  be- 
fore, and  if  the  spirit  of  reform  largely  vanished  from  the 
national  scene,  it  found  an  outlet  in  some  of  the  states,  where 
men  like  Alfred  E.  Smith  were  at  work,  and  in  many  local 
communities.  Stimson  himself  was  active  in  state  reform; 
Smith  consulted  him  frequently,  and  he  served  under  Charles 
E.  Hughes  on  a  Commission  for  Reorganizing  the  State  De- 


partments  which  did  much  to  bring  to  life  the  reforms  first 
put  forth  in  the  stillborn  constitution  of  1915.  And  in  many 
boards  and  committees  in  New  York  City,  Stimson  like  other 
citizens  tried  to  do  his  part  in  community  life.  In  later  years, 
when  young  men  spoke  to  him  with  enthusiasm  of  the  work  of 
the  New  Deal,  he  always  insisted  that  the  work  done  in  towns 
and  cities,  and  in  the  states,  was  of  the  greatest  importance ;  he 
remained  always  a  believer  in  strong  national  government,  but 
he  also  believed  in  local  self-government  and  in  private  charity. 
To  these  local  undertakings  he  devoted  himself  in  the  twen- 
ties, as  he  had  done,  indeed,  in  one  degree  or  another  all  his 
life,  in  the  time  that  was  left  over  from  his  private  business. 


Stimson's  return  to  active  public  service  began  in  1926.  In 
the  spring  of  that  year  he  undertook  an  advisory  brief  for  the 
State  Department  in  the  tangled  dispute  between  Chile  and 
Peru  over  the  provinces  of  Tacna  and  Arica.  The  Tacna- 
Arica  case  need  not  detain  us  here ;  it  was  a  legacy  from  the 
war  of  1879  between  Chile  and  Peru;  Secretary  Hughes 
began,  Secretary  Kellogg  continued,  and  President  Hoover 
completed  a  prolonged  and  complex  work  of  mediation  by 
which  the  matter  was  settled.  Stimson  never  had  more  than  a 
minor  part  in  the  affair.  Its  principal  value  to  him  was  in  its 
practical  confirmation  of  a  view  he  had  long  held :  the  notion 
of  honest  elections  and  plebiscites  is  not  a  fruitful  one  in  most 
Latin  American  countries  in  any  critical  issue,  unless  those 
plebiscites  and  elections  are  impartially  guided  by  an  outside 
agency.  The  Tacna-Arica  area,  in  1926,  was  under  Chilean 
control,  and  Stimson  after  careful  study  concluded  that  any 
plebiscite  conducted  in  an  area  dominated  by  Chilean  police 
would  have  a  result  hardly  likely  to  satisfy  Peru,  or  even  dis- 
interested observers. 

After  the  Tacna-Arica  case  Stimson  undertook  a  semiofficial 
visit  to  the  Philippines  where  his  old  friend  Leonard  Wood 
was  Governor  General.  The  details  of  this  voyage  must  wait 
for  another  chapter.  What  is  important  here  is  that  on  his 
return  Stimson  had  two  friendly  meetings  with  President  Cal- 


vin  Coolidge.  Mr.  Coolidge  proved  a  good  listener,  and  Stim- 
son  liked  both  his  caution  and  his  evident  intention  to  say  no 
more  than  he  would  do.  He  was  already  an  admirer  of  Mr. 
Coolidge's  courage  in  standing  for  economy  in  an  extravagant 
era,  and  although  he  never  felt  that  this  old-line  Yankee  was 
one  of  the  outstanding  presidents  of  his  time,  he  soon  found 
that  Mr.  Coolidge  was  a  wholly  satisfactory  chief;  he  gave 
his  chosen  subordinates  unreserved  confidence,  and  he  never 
let  them  down. 

His  first  assignment  from  President  Coolidge  came  in  the 
spring  of  1927,  when  he  was  sent  as  a  special  emissary  to  Nic- 
aragua. He  was  given  a  full  grant  of  power  direct  from  the 
President  to  act  for  the  United  States  Government  in  seeking 
a  solution  to  an  intolerable  situation.  It  was  a  flattering  assign- 
ment, for  the  position  in  Nicaragua  wras  both  complex  and 
dangerous.  Stimson  and  his  wife  spent  a  month  in  the  little 
tropical  republic,  and  they  both  believed,  then  and  later,  that 
hardly  any  single  month  in  their  lives  was  better  spent.  Stim- 
son's  first  book  was  written  as  a  description  of  the  problem  of 
American  policy  in  Nicaragua  and  of  his  own  part  in  the  ne\v 
departure  of  1927,  and  to  that  book  the  reader  must  turn  for 
his  detailed  view  of  the  matter.3  Only  a  bare  outline  can  here 
be  given. 

Nicaragua  in  1927  was  torn  by  a  bitter  civil  war  between 
the  two  traditional  opposing  parties,  the  Liberals  and  the  Con- 
servatives. The  war  was  a  violent  expression  of  the  continuing 
struggle  for  power  between  rival  oligarchic  groups  in  a  coun- 
try few  of  whose  700,000  inhabitants  were  sufficiently  edu- 
cated or  alert  to  be  politically  important.  The  methods  of  the 
war  were  typical  of  civil  strife  in  politically  backward 
countries;  the  armies  on  both  sides  were  raised  by  impress- 
ment from  the  lower  classes ;  the  countryside  was  full  of  armed 
deserters ;  the  fields  were  untilled ;  the  already  shaky  national 
economy  was  being  further  weakened  by  the  waste  of  war  and 
civil  unrest.  In  actual  combat  both  armies  were  brave  and 
bitter,  but  their  courage  was  not  accompanied  by  generosity 
toward  the  vanquished.  No  prisoners  were  being  taken  by 
either  side. 

3  American  Policy  in  Nicaragua,  Scribner's,  1927. 


The  American  interest  in  Nicaragua  was  dual.4  First,  under 
the  Monroe  Doctrine  and  its  Roosevelt  Corollary,  the  United 
States  had  assumed  a  special  responsibility  for  the  treatment 
given  by  her  Latin  neighbors  to  foreign  nationals  and  foreign 
property;  the  civil  strife  of  1926  and  1927  produced  strong 
hints  from  Great  Britain  and  others  to  the  effect  that  if  the 
Americans  would  not  permit  other  foreigners  to  protect  them- 
selves, they  must  provide  a  satisfactory  substitute. 

At  the  same  time  Nicaragua,  strategically  located  near  the 
Panama  Canal,  was  a  country  whose  independence  and  integ- 
rity must  be  especially  protected  by  the  United  States.  Thus, 
lacking  any  smallest  desire  to  dictate  or  dominate  in  the  in- 
ternal affairs  of  any  Latin  American  country,  the  American 
Government  since  1912  had  felt  it  necessary  to  post  marines 
in  Nicaragua  for  the  maintenance  of  civil  peace  at  least  in 
neutral  zones  where  the  peculiarly  unselective  warmaking  of 
the  combatants  should  not  penetrate. 

In  1925,  when  a  coalition  government  appeared  to  be  in 
peaceful  and  unchallenged  control  of  the  country,  the  Amer- 
ican marines,  100  in  number,  were  withdrawn.  The  coalition 
government  was  promptly  overthrown  by  an  extremist  conser- 
vative named  Chamorro.  Denied  recognition  by  the  United 
States,  in  accordance  with  the  treaty  of  1923,  Chamorro  was 
eventually  forced  to  resign.  The  Civil  War  of  1926  and  1927 
was  essentially  a  war  for  the  succession  to  Chamorro.  The 
Conservative  Diaz,  recognized  by  the  United  States  and  most 
European  nations,  was  opposed  by  the  Liberal  Sacasa,  who 
enjoyed  the  recognition  and  military  aid  of  revolutionary 
Mexico.  Having  at  first  placed  an  embargo  on  all  shipments 
of  arms  or  ammunition  to  Nicaragua,  the  United  States  in 
early  1927  responded  to  the  Mexican  activities  by  opening  to 
the  Conservatives  the  right  of  military  purchase  in  the  United 
States.  The  unhappy  war  in  Nicaragua  then  acquired  a  new 
and  sensitive  aspect  as  an  issue  between  the  Americans  and 
their  Mexican  neighbors.  Feeling  in  Latin  America  was  high, 
and  not  favorable  to  Uncle  Sam. 

To  Stimson  it  seemed  clear  that  the  first  and  great  objective 

4  For  a  more  detailed  discussion  of  the  basis  of  American  policy  in  Latin  America 
as  Stimson  understood  it  see  pp.  174-187. 


was  to  end  the  war  as  quickly  and  as  fairly  as  possible.  Al- 
though the  American  Government  had  endorsed  Diaz,  it  was 
clear  that  this  was  not  a  case  in  which  the  right  was  all  on  one 
side.  Indeed,  it  seemed  to  Stimson  as  if  the  Liberals  and  the 
Conservatives  were  essentially  very  similar,  even  in  their  mu- 
tual hatred.  But  his  first  assignment  was  to  investigate  and 
report,  and  he  accordingly  suspended  judgment  until  he 
should  have  a  chance  to  see  the  situation  on  the  ground. 

In  the  first  ten  days  of  his  visit  he  conferred  at  length  with 
the  Americans  on  the  spot  and  with  Nicaraguans  of  all  schools 
of  opinion.  He  talked  with  President  Diaz  and  with  the  ex- 
treme Conservatives;  he  talked  with  the  Liberals  in  their 
stronghold  at  Leon;  he  held  himself  open  in  Managua  to  vis- 
itors who  wished  to  present  their  views.  Three  things  speedily 
became  clear.  First,  the  civil  war  was  hopelessly  stalemated ; 
both  sides  were  incapable  of  effective  offensive  action;  the 
Conservative  superiority  in  numbers  was  matched  by  the  su- 
perior military  skill  of  the  Liberal  general.  If  the  war  con- 
tinued, neither  side  could  win  and  all  Nicaragua  must  be  the 
loser.  Second,  the  bulk  of  the  people,  including  even  the  active 
Liberals  and  Conservatives,  were  heartily  sick  of  war.  Stimson 
learned  of  this  feeling  from  his  own  meetings,  and  he  found 
forceful  confirmation  in  the  experiences  of  Mrs.  Stimson,  who 
held  a  series  of  meetings  with  Nicaraguan  women.  Third, 
most  Nicaraguans,  on  both  sides,  would  be  happy  to  see  the 
war  ended  by  a  promise  of  mediation  and  good  offices  from 
the  United  States,  and  by  "good  offices"  they  meant  American 
supervision  of  a  new  national  election.  This  faith  in  American 
honor  was  somewhat  surprising,  although  very  gratifying,  for 
it  had  been  widely  announced  that  the  Liberals,  enjoying 
Mexican  support,  were  an  anti-Yankee  party.  It  at  once  be- 
came possible  for  Stimson  to  hope  that  his  mission  might 
result  in  a  return  of  peace.  And  so  it  turned  out. 

The  detailed  terms  of  the  settlement  finally  arranged  three 
weeks  after  Stimson  landed  need  not  concern  us  here.  It  was 
provided  that  Diaz  should  continue  as  President  until  1928, 
when  the  regular  scheduled  national  election  would  be  held 
under  American  guarantees  of  fairness  and  American  control. 
Meanwhile  both  sides  were  disarmed  and  a  general  amnesty 


was  proclaimed,  and  the  maintenance  of  civil  order  in  Nica- 
ragua became  the  responsibility  of  a  new  constabulary  trained 
and  initially  led  by  American  marines.  The  war  ended  and, 
with  the  exception  of  continued  guerrilla  operations  by  one  of 
the  Liberal  leaders  who  failed  to  honor  his  personal  pledge, 
peace  came  to  Nicaragua. 

In  negotiating  this  settlement  Stimson  was  again  and  again 
reminded  of  his  dictum  that  trust  begets  trust.  Once  he  had 
persuaded  the  leaders  on  both  sides  that  his  purpose  was  hon- 
orable and  his  objective  the  restoration  of  a  fair  and  indepen- 
dent peace,  he  found  them,  almost  without  exception,  frank, 
moderate  and  co-operative.  He  was  particularly  impressed  by 
the  manner  and  bearing  of  General  Moncada,  the  Liberal 
leader.  Moncada  was  the  most  important  single  figure  in- 
volved in  the  negotiations ;  it  was  his  decision  that  would  de- 
termine whether  or  not  the  Liberal  army  should  continue  to 
fight.  Stimson's  first  meeting  with  him  took  place  in  the  little 
town  of  Tipitapa  on  May  4;  it  lasted  thirty  minutes  and  re- 
sulted in  a  full  agreement.  This  agreement  involved  a  rather 
curious  condition,  one  for  which  Stimson  was  widely  criti- 
cized in  some  circles  but  of  which  he  always  remained  ex- 
tremely proud.  Moncada  accepted  the  basic  conditions  of  the 
peace  settlement  as  given  above,  but  he  found  the  continuance 
of  Diaz  through  1928  a  stiff  pill  for  himself  and  a  stiff er  one 
for  his  troops,  who  after  all  had  been  fighting  Diaz  all  winter. 
He  therefore  asked  for,  and  Stimson  gave  him,  a  letter  stating 
that  as  a  condition  to  its  supervision  of  elections  the  United 
States  would  insist  on  the  retention  of  Diaz  and  on  a  general 
disarmament.  This  letter  was  in  form  a  threat  that  if  Moncada 
did  not  accept,  the  United  States  would  forcibly  support  the 
Diaz  Government.  But  in  fact  it  was  merely  a  method  of  assist- 
ing the  statesmanlike  labors  of  Moncada.  Stimson  would  have 
been  extremely  embarrassed  if  Moncada  had  proved  untrust- 
worthy, for  he  had  no  authority  to  pledge  his  Government  to 
virtual  war  in  Nicaragua ;  but  he  followed  his  policy  of  trust 
and  good  will,  and  Moncada  was  as  good  as  his  word.  He  and 
most  of  his  chieftains  accepted  the  "Peace  of  Tipitapa,"  and 
the  bulk  of  the  armies  on  both  sides  turned  in  their  weapons 
to  the  marines.  Only  one  held  out,  a  man  named  Sandino  who 


had  a  long  record  as  a  bandit  leader  in  Mexico.  Sandino's 
plainly  unprincipled  and  brutal  activities  attracted  an  aston- 
ishing amount  of  uncritical  support  both  in  Latin  America 
and  in  the  United  States,  but  his  operations  were  confined  to  a 
small  and  sparsely  settled  area. 

Thus  within  a  month  of  his  arrival  Stimson  had  succeeded  in 
restoring  general  peace.  He  had  also  pledged  the  United  States 
to  a  fair  and  free  election,  and  only  the  redemption  of  this 
pledge  could  mark  a  real  ending  point  to  his  efforts.  After  his 
return  to  the  United  States  he  did  much  work  in  the  prepara- 
tions for  the  1928  elections  and  was  in  constant  touch  with  the 
officer  who  supervised  them,  his  friend  General  Frank  R.  Mc- 
Coy. Both  men  bore  in  mind  the  vital  importance  of  keeping 
full  control  of  the  voting  machinery,  and  McCoy  organized  an 
election  of  complete  probity,  in  which  a  full  and  secret  suffrage 
was  maintained.  To  Stimson's  personal  satisfaction  the  Liberal 
Moncada  was  elected  President.  Thus  the  United  States,  at 
some  expense  and  with  considerable  effort,  succeeded  in  this 
one  war  in  substituting  ballots  for  bullets.  And  the  warmth 
of  Stimson's  reception,  after  the  settlement  and  before  his  de- 
parture, among  all  sorts  of  Nicaraguans  clearly  indicated  to 
him  that,  at  least  among  the  people  most  closely  concerned, 
he  was  regarded  as  a  good  and  useful  friend. 

There  is  much  more  to  the  story  of  American  dealings  with 
Nicaragua.  It  need  not  be  supposed  that  one  or  two  free  and 
honest  elections  wholly  changed  the  political  conditions  and 
attitudes  of  that  small  country,  or  that  the  end  of  civil  war 
brought  any  quick  solution  to  the  problems  of  poverty  and 
backwardness  which  have  plagued  the  country  for  so  long. 
Nor  did  the  American  Government  quickly  find  any  easy  way 
to  combine  its  respect  for  the  sovereignty  of  small  nations 
with  its  overriding  concern  for  the  strategic  security  of  the 
Panama  area.  But  during  the  years  in  which  Stimson  followed 
it  closely  the  story  of  American-Nicaraguan  relations  was  con- 
stantly more  hopeful,  and  one  of  his  last  official  acts  as 
Secretary  of  State  in  early  1933  was  to  approve  the  with- 
drawal on  schedule  of  the  last  American  marines.  The  marines 
had  come  to  save  lives  in  the  civil  war ;  they  had  remained  to 
disarm  the  contenders,  chase  bandits,  and  hold  an  election. 


and  they  left  behind  in  the  end  a  country  peaceful  and  in- 
dependent. It  was  a  job  well  done. 

To  Stimson  himself  the  big  lesson  of  his  Nicaraguan  ex- 
perience was  a  simple  one :  if  a  man  was  frank  and  friendly, 
and  if  he  treated  them  as  the  equals  they  most  certainly  were, 
he  could  talk  turkey  with  the  politicians  and  other  leaders 
of  Latin  America  as  he  could  with  his  own  American  col- 
leagues. And  they  would  not  let  him  down. 

It  happened  that  the  Peace  of  Tipitapa  and  the  transatlantic 
flight  of  Charles  E.  Lindbergh  took  place  within  a  few  days 
of  each  other,  and  Stimson  always  felt  that  his  work  in 
Nicaragua  was  somewhat  blanketed  from  the  public  by  the 
extraordinary  and  consuming  interest  attaching  to  Colonel 
Lindbergh.  But  in  the  Coolidge  administration,  and  partic- 
ularly at  the  White  House,  where  the  Nicaraguan  troubles 
had  been  a  severe  annoyance,  his  work  was  highly  approved 
and  his  pledges  fully  redeemed.  Calvin  Coolidge  was  pleased, 
and  his  satisfaction  was  probably  largely  responsible  for  Stim- 
son's  return  in  less  than  a  year  to  full-time  public  service  as 
Governor  General  of  the  Philippine  Islands. 


Governor  General  of  the  Philippines 


EARLY  in  February,  1928,  Stimson  sailed  from  San 
Francisco  to  begin  service  as  Governor  General  of  the 
Philippine  Islands.  He  had  retired  for  good  from  his  law 
firm,  and  now  he  was  embarked  with  Mrs.  Stimson  on  a 
journey  halfway  around  the  world.  It  was  a  strange  under- 
taking for  a  sixty-year-old  New  York  lawyer,  and  during  the 
preceding  month  he  had  been  kept  busy  acknowledging  let- 
ters in  which  congratulations  were  tempered  by  a  certain  tone 
of  condolence,  as  if  to  say  that  this  was  all  very  well  but  did 
he  know  what  he  was  letting  himself  in  for?  Only  a  few  recog- 
nized the  feeling  with  which  Stimson  himself  had  accepted 
the  appointment — a  feeling  that  this  was  to  be  a  last  short  ad- 
venture before  his  old  age,  and  that  it  would  be  a  welcome 
addition  to  his  memories.  The  Philippines  to  most  Americans 
were  still,  in  1928,  a  far-off  unhealthy  country,  in  which  one 
might  take  a  distant,  not  unkindly  interest  but  to  which  one 
would  hardly  go  as  a  working  official.  And,  indeed,  if  the 
appointment  to  the  Philippines  had  been  merely  a  routine 
call  to  public  service,  Stimson  might  well  have  refused,  for 
life  at  home  had  become  increasingly  satisfactory  in  the  years 
since  the  war,  and  Stimson  was  not  insensible  to  the  dangers 
and  difficulties  of  so  great  a  change  in  his  life.  But  as  it  hap- 
pened, his  interest  in  the  Philippines  was  intense,  and  he 
believed  that  there  was  offered  to  him  now  an  unusual  oppor- 
tunity for  special  service.  In  order  to  understand  his  position, 
we  must  briefly  consider  the  history  of  the  Philippine  Islands. 
The  Philippine  Islands  were  named  by  the  Spanish  explorer 



Villabos  in  1543 ;  they  were  conquered  by  Spaniards  a  genera- 
tion later  and  for  more  than  three  centuries  remained  under 
the  Spanish  flag.  Then  in  1898,  by  the  historical  accident  that 
Spain  had  also  kept  Cuba,  the  Philippines  passed  to  American 
control.  The  American  reaction  to  this  quirk  of  fate  was 
mixed,  but  the  resulting  official  policy  was,  in  Stimson's  view, 
excellent.  As  he  later  wrote,  "What  we  proposed  to  do  was 
stated  with  wisdom  and  foresight  by  our  Senate  in  its  resolu- 
tion of  February  14,  1899,  when  we  ratified  the  treaty  with 
Spain  and  took  over  the  Islands.  'Resolved  that  by  the  ratifica- 
tion of  the  treaty  of  peace  with  Spain  it  is  not  intended  to 
permanently  annex  said  islands  as  an  integral  part  of  the 
United  States;  but  it  is  the" intention  of  the  United  States  to 
establish  on  said  islands  a  government  suitable  to  the  wants 
and  conditions  of  the  inhabitants  of  said  islands,  to  prepare 
them  for  local  self-government,  and  in  due  time  to  make 
such  disposition  of  said  islands  as  will  best  promote  the  in- 
terests of  the  citizens  of  the  United  States  and  the  inhabitants 
of  said  islands.'  m  This  general  policy  was  defined  in  greater 
detail  in  the  famous  letter  of  instructions  to  William  H.  Taft 
which  was  prepared  by  Secretary  Root  and  signed  by  Presi- 
dent McKinley  on  April  7,  1900.  This  letter  outlined  in  some 
detail  the  great  principles  of  individual  human  rights  "which 
we  deem  essential  to  the  rule  of  freedom."  It  instructed  Taft's 
commission  to  insure  the  maintenance  of  these  principles  at 
all  costs,  bearing  in  mind,  however,  "that  the  government 
which  they  are  establishing  is  designed,  not  for  our  satisfac- 
tion or  the  expression  of  our  theoretical  views,  but  for  the 
happiness,  peace,  and  prosperity  of  the  people  of  the  Philip- 
pine Islands,  and  the  measures  adopted  shall  be  made  to  con- 
form to  their  customs,  their  habits,  and  even  to  their  prejudices, 
to  the  fullest  extent  consistent  with  the  accomplishment  of 
the  indispensable  requisite  of  just  and  effective  government."2 
The  policy  of  McKinley  and  Root  was  carried  out  with  un- 
wearied devotion  and  sympathy  by  Taft  and  his  successors 
for  thirteen  years.  The  great  political  objective  of  this  period 
was  to  educate  the  Filipinos  to  a  constantly  growing  measure 

1  "Future  Philippine  Policy  under  the  Jones  Act,"  foreign  Affairs,  April,   1927. 

2  Annual  Report  of  the  Secretary  of  War,   1900,  p.  74. 


of  democratic  self-government,  and  after  the  mutually  mag- 
nanimous conclusion  of  the  Philippine  insurrection,  in  1902, 
the  progress  made  in  pursuing  this  objective  was  remarkable. 
Perhaps  no  group  of  white  men  has  ever  accomplished  so 
much  with  a  colonial  people  as  the  American  officials,  educa- 
tors, and  missionaries  who  went  to  the  Philippines  in  the 
early  twentieth  century.  Taft's  dictum  that  the  Philippines 
were  for  the  Filipinos  became  and  remained  the  fixed  policy 
of  the  American  authorities,  and  the  small  colony  of  Western 
businessmen  in  Manila  never  found  the  Governors  General 
willing  to  subordinate  their  mission  to  commercial  interests. 

This  political  policy  was  gradually  matched  by  economic 
concessions  culminating  in  1913  with  the  establishment  of  com- 
plete free  trade  between  the  Islands  and  the  United  States. 
Not  until  later  did  the  profound  significance  of  this  step  be- 
come fully  apparent. 

In  1913  the  Philippines  enjoyed  a  measure  of  prosperity 
and  health  incomparably  greater  than  any  they  had  dreamed 
of  fifteen  years  before.  In  thousands  of  schoolhouses  an  effort 
had  begun  to  satisfy  the  deep  thirst  of  the  Filipino  people  for 
education.  The  health  and  sanitation  of  the  tropical  islands 
had  been  greatly  improved — conspicuously,  the  death  rate  in 
Manila  had  been  cut  in  half.  An  equitable  system  of  justice 
was  in  full  operation.  A  constantly  growing  number  of  Fili- 
pinos were  participating  in  the  work  of  government,  both 
legislative  and  administrative,  though  the  final  authority  in 
the  Islands  remained  the  American  Governor  General.  The 
Americans  and  the  Filipinos  had  become  fast  friends. 

But  though  much  had  been  done,  a  great  deal  more  re- 
mained to  do,  and,  as  Secretary  of  War,  in  1912,  writing  with 
the  knowledge  that  a  new  administration  was  about  to  take 
office,  Stimson  issued  a  strong  warning  against  any  change  in 
policy.  This  warning  must  be  quoted  in  detail,  for  it  repre- 
sents very  clearly  the  peculiar  difficulty  of  the  American  mis7 
sion  to  the  Philippines  as  Stimson  understood  it. 

"All  this  has  made  for  the  betterment  of  the  condition  and 
the  hopefulness  of  the  outlook  of  the  individual  Filipino.  Yet 
with  all  the  progress  of  the  decade,  our  work  in  the  Phil- 
ippines has  but  just  commenced.  Along  no  line,  moral,  mental, 


or  material,  can  it  be  counted  as  completed.  With  all  the 
remarkable  advance  in  education,  there  are  still  over  a  million 
Filipino  children  of  school  age  unreached.  With  all  that  has 
been  done  in  constructing  public  works,  there  are  still  vast 
regions  of  the  islands  cut  off  from  means  of  communication 
and  transportation  and  from  facilities  for  moral  and  mental 
betterment.  In  spite  of  the  higher  wages  and  greater  freedom 
now  granted  to  labor,  the  old  system  of  peonage,  ingrained 
through  centuries,  is  still  accepted  as  their  economic  lot  by 
the  Philippine  masses,  and  would  make  them  only  too  ready 
victims  for  the  rich  and  educated  Philippine  minority,  who 
still  regard  the  status  of  peonage  as  the  natural  lot  of  the 
ignorant  masses.  And,  finally,  the  success  of  the  constantly 
increasing  native  participation  in  the  native  government  has 
been  accomplished  only  because  every  step  has  been  carefully 
checked  and  watched  by  Americans,  and  probably  nothing  is 
more  certain  than  that,  without  these  checks,  such  progress 
would  have  been  impossible.  Not  only  this,  but  the  suspension 
of  these  checks  now  would,  with  almost  equal  certainty,  forbid 
the  eventual  establishment  of  anything  like  popular  self-gov- 
ernment in  the  Islands,  and  would  subject  the  great  mass  of 
people  there  to  the  dominance  of  an  oligarchy,  and  probably 
an  exploiting  oligarchy.  A  complete  release  from  American 
direction  would  not  merely  retard  progress  along  every  line 
noted  here,  but  would  inevitably  mark  the  beginning  of  a 
period  of  rapid  retrogression.  There  are  few  competent  stu- 
dents of  recent  Philippine  affairs  who  do  not  believe  that  if 
American  control  were  now  removed  from  the  Islands  prac- 
tically all  signs  of  American  accomplishment  in  the  Philip- 
pines during  the  last  decade  would  disappear  in  the  next 
generation.  Until  our  work  in  the  archipelago  is  completed, 
until  the  Filipinos  are  prepared  not  only  to  preserve  but  to 
continue  it,  abandonment  of  the  Philippines,  under  whatever 
guise,  would  be  an  abandonment  of  our  responsibility  to  the 
Filipino  people  and  of  the  moral  obligations  which  we  have 
voluntarily  assumed  before  the  world." 

In  the  face  of  this  warning,  which  very  possibly  they  did 
not  read,  for  it  was  embedded  in  the  annual  report  of  the 
Secretary  of  War,  the  policy  makers  of  the  Wilson  administra- 


tion  promptly  undertook  to  execute  a  program  of  rapid  with- 
drawal. In  this  they  were  carrying  out  a  part  of  their  national 
platform;  they  were  also  in  harmony  with  the  advice  of  lead- 
ing Filipinos.  The  Democratic  party,  partly  on  partisan 
grounds  and  partly  in  the  conviction  that  there  could  be  no 
such  thing  as  truly  disinterested  colonial  government,  had 
steadily  urged  in  years  of  opposition  that  the  United  States 
should  get  out  of  the  Philippines  as  quickly  as  possible.  Mean- 
while political  leaders  in  the  Islands  had  raised  the  standard 
of  independence,  and  their  cries  were  heard  with  sympathy 
by  many  generous-spirited  Americans  who  had  more  knowl- 
edge of  the  ideals  of  freedom  than  of  the  political  realities 
of  the  Philippines.  Woodrow  Wilson,  succeeding  to  the  Presi- 
dency in  1913,  was  not  only  a  Democrat  but  a  man  whose  igno- 
rance of  the  Philippines  was  fully  matched  by  a  doctrinaire 
sympathy  with  brave  words  everywhere. 

It  thus  happened  that  between  1913  and  1921,  in  a  period 
which  Stimson  wryly  called  "the  Harrison  interlude,"  the 
Republican  policy  of  slowly  expanding  self-government  under 
American  supervision  was  abandoned  in  favor  of  a  policy  of 
rapid  "Filipinization,"  accompanied  by  an  astonishing  abdi- 
cation of  the  Governor  General's  supervisory  and  executive 
functions.  The  Governor  General,  Francis  Burton  Harrison, 
succeeded  in  permanently  disbanding  the  experienced  and 
disinterested  cadre  of  American  officials  which  had  played 
so  great  a  part  in  raising  and  maintaining  high  standards  of 
civil  service  in  the  Philippines;  Harrison  went  so  far  as 
to  turn  over  to  the  Filipinos  powers  specifically  reserved  to 
the  Governor  General  by  the  Jones  Act  of  1916,  a  measure 
sponsored  by  his  own  party. 

The  result  of  those  eight  years  was  the  one  which  Stimson 
and  Americans  experienced  in  Philippine  affairs  had  ex- 
pected. As  Stimson  later  put  it,  "The  Malay  tendency  to 
backslide  promptly  made  itself  felt  with  disastrous  conse- 
quences. The  sanitary  service  became  disorganized  with  re- 
sulting epidemics  of  smallpox,  and  cholera,  which  within  a 
single  period  of  two  years  carried  off  over  sixty  thousand 
people.  The  Philippine  government  was  allowed  to  invest  its 
funds  in  a  national  bank,  a  railroad,  cement  factory,  sugar 


centrals  and  other  business  enterprises  substantially  all  of 
which  were  failures.  The  bank  .nearly  became  insolvent,  the 
insular  currency  dropped  to  fifteen  percent  below  par  and  the 
insular  government  was  wholly  unable  to  live  within  its 


Shortly  after  his  inauguration  in  1921  President  Harding 
sent  to  the  Philippines  a  mission  headed  by  Leonard  Wood, 
with  former  Governor  General  Cameron  Forbes  as  his  chief 
associate.  The  Wood-Forbes  mission  was  to  report  whether 
or  not  "the  Philippine  Government  is  now  in  a  position  to 
warrant  its  total  separation  from  the  United  States  Govern- 
ment." The  mission's  report,  though  moderate  in  tone,  made 
clear  the  opinion  of  the  mission  that  the  Philippines  were  not 
yet  ready  for  unsupervised  self-government.  It  drew  particular 
attention  to  the  condition  of  the  public  service.  "It  is  the 
general  opinion  among  Filipinos,  Americans,  and  foreigners 
that  the  public  services  are  now  in  many  particulars  relatively 
inefficient ;  that  there  has  occurred  a  slowing  down  in  the  dis- 
patch of  business,  and  a  distinct  relapse  toward  the  standards 
and  administrative  habits  of  former  days.  This  is  due  in  part 
to  bad  example,  incompetent  direction,  to  political  infection 
of  the  services,  and  above  all  to  lack  of  competent  supervision 
and  inspection.  This  has  been  brought  about  by  surrendering, 
or  failing  to  employ,  the  executive  authority  of  the  Governor 
General,  and  has  resulted  in  undue  interference  and  tacit 
usurpation  by  the  political  leaders  of  the  general  supervision 
and  control  of  departments  and  bureaus  of  the  government 
vested  by  law  in  the  Governor  General."4 

Challenged  by  the  condition  he  had  found,  General  Wood 
accepted  appointment  as  Governor  General,  and  during  the 
next  six  years  he  did  his  best  to  restore  the  earlier  high  stand- 
ards of  administration  in  the  Islands.  "Such  a  restoration," 
Stimson  reported,  "necessarily  could  be  only  partial.  The 
'Big  Brother'  method  was  gone  forever  as  the  admirable  force 
of  American  civil  servants  who  had  been  brought  to  the  Phil- 
ippines by  Governor  Taft  and  his  successors  during  the  first 

»  "Future  Philippine  Policy  under  the  Jones  Act,"  Foreign  Affairs,  April,  1927. 

Report  of  the  Special  Mission  to  the  Philippine  Islands,  printed  as  House  Docu- 
ment No.  325,  67th  Congress,  2nd  Session,  pp.  22-23. 


fifteen  years  had  been  dismissed  and  scattered.  But,  under  the 
broad  powers  of  supervision  and  veto  granted  to  the  Governor 
General  by  Congress  in  the  Jones  Act  of  1916,  Governor  Wood 
has  found  an  instrument  for  the  gradual  rehabilitation  of  the 
Philippine  government.  It  has  been  a  most  difficult  and  un- 
grateful task.  Powers  of  supervision  over  any  race  or  people 
once  abandoned  can  be  re-established  only  with  the  utmost 
difficulty.  To  any  governor  not  possessing  the  titanic  energy 
as  well  as  the  colonial  experience  and  unfailing  patience  of 
Leonard  Wood,  the  task  would  have  been  impossible,  for  in 
the  Philippines  this  supervisory  power  of  the  Governor  Gen- 
eral must  take  the  place  and  perform  the  duty  wrhich  in  Amer- 
ica is  performed  by  organized  public  opinion.  ...  By  the 
work  thus  patiently  and  laboriously  performed  the  damage 
done  by  the  reckless  experiment  of  the  Harrison  administra- 
tion has  been  practically  repaired.  The  currency  has  been 
restored  to  par.  The  bank  has  been  saved  from  insolvency. 
The  government  is  living  within  its  income.  Taxation  which 
is  very  moderate  is  being  satisfactorily  paid.  Sanitation  has 
been  restored  and  w7hile  eternal  vigilance  is  necessary,  that 
vigilance  at  present  is  being  maintained.  When  an  epidemic 
of  Asiatic  cholera  was  brought  over  from  China  to  Manila  in 
the  autumn  of  1925,  it  was  promptly  suppressed  by  the  vigor- 
ous measures  taken  by  Governor  Wood.  Education  is  highly 
popular  and  constitutes  the  largest  item  of  the  budget.  There 
is  in  general  throughout  the  Islands  a  very  evident  condition 
of  ease  and  contentment  which  strikes  the  visitor  at  the  present 
time  as  in  the  sharpest  possible  contrast  with  the  conditions 
which  he  sees  across  the  way  in  China.'53 

Such  wras  the  outline  of  the  American  connection  with  the 
Philippine  problem  as  Stimson  understood  it  in  1926  when 
with  his  wife  he  visited  General  Wood  in  Manila.  It  was  a 
visit  which  Wood  had  requested  him  to  make  for  the  purpose 
of  obtaining  his  advice  on  some  matters  of  a  legal  and  govern- 
mental character  and  during  the  six  weeks  of  his  stay  Stimson 
saw  a  great  deal  about  the  Philippines  with  which  he  had 
only  distantly  come  in  contact  before.  He  was  more  than  ever 

5  "First   Hand    Impressions    of   the    Philippine   Problem,"    Saturday    Evening   Post, 
March  19,  1927. 


gripped  by  the  extraordinary  educational  venture  on  which 
the  American  Government  was  then  embarked.  He  also  found, 
with  a  shock  of  happy  recognition,  that  the  central  political 
problem  of  the  Philippines  seemed  to  be  one  for  which  his 
own  political  thinking  of  the  previous  decade  suggested  an 
almost  tailor-made  solution. 

The  labors  performed  by  Leonard  Wood  in  the  Philippines 
had  not  won  him  the  cordial  support  of  Filipino  politicians. 
The  reassertion  of  powers  left  unused  by  his  predecessor 
seemed  to  the  Filipinos  a  clear  backward  step,  and  although 
they  could  not  deny  the  existence  of  the  abuses  which  Wood 
was  working  to  correct,  neither  pride  nor  politics  made  it  easy 
for  them  to  accept  his  course  with  equanimity.  Thus  it  hap- 
pened that  during  the  Wood  administration  there  had  de- 
veloped an  impasse,  not  between  Wood  and  the  Filipino  peo- 
ple, who  were  largely  indifferent  to  politics  and  as  a  whole 
respected  and  admired  Wood's  Herculean  efforts  on  their  be- 
half, but  between  Wood  and  the  leaders  of  the  elective  legisla- 
ture. It  became  the  declared  policy  of  these  leaders  not  to 
co-operate  with  the  Governor  General,  and  as  their  complaints 
carried  more  readily  across  the  water  to  America  than  the 
solid  facts  about  Wood's  administration,  there  was  the  usual 
reaction  among  uncritical  liberals  at  home.  Fortunately  Wood 
was  firmly  supported  by  President  Coolidge,  and  by  the  time 
Stimson  arrived  on  his  visit  to  the  Islands  the  Filipino  leaders 
had  begun  to  moderate  their  position.  But  the  policy  of  non- 
co-operation  still  persisted,  and  the  Cabinet  remained  unfilled 
because  the  Philippine  Senate  and  the  Governor  could  not 
agree  on  appointments. 

During  his  visit  Stimson  talked  and  traveled  with  Wood, 
observing  with  keen  admiration  the  vigilance  and  energy  with 
which  the  Governor  looked  after  the  interests  of  his  people, 
using  his  powers  of  inspection  as  a  constant  goad  to  the  lazy 
and  a  menace  to  the  faithless. 

But  he  also  talked  with  Filipinos,  and  particularly  with 
Manuel  Quezon  and  Sergio  Osmena,  the  two  who  then  shared 
leadership  among  the  Filipino  politicians.  Quezon,  whom  he 
had  known  since  1913,  was  the  particular  symbol  now  of 
opposition  to  Wood's  regime;  he  had  raised  with  eloquence 


and  vigor  the  standard  of  immediate  independence.  Yet  in 
long  talks  with  Quezon,  Stimson  became  certain  that  the  fiery 
Filipino  was  by  no  means  unready  to  co-operate,  under  the 
Jones  Act  of  1916,  so  long  as  he  could  not  have  independence. 
He  was  even  willing  to  suspend  active  discussion  of  inde- 
pendence in  return  for  genuine  co-operation  in  gradually  ex- 
tending Filipino  participation  in  the  administration  of  the 
Government.  Quezon  was  a  politico,  but  Stimson  found  that 
in  frank  discussion  he  was  both  friendly  and  reasonable. 

Osmena  he  found  even  more  interesting.  The  studious  and 
highly  intelligent  Chinese  mestizo,  though  less  eloquent  and 
vigorous  than  his  half-Spanish  colleague,  had  thought  deeply 
on  the  government  of  the  Philippines.  On  Osmena's  home 
island  of  Cebu  Stimson  discussed  with  him  at  length  the  no- 
tion both  men  had  developed  that  the  solution  to  the  current 
impasse  might  lie  in  an  adaptation  of  Cabinet  government. 
Osmena  emphasized  the  importance  of  co-operation  with  the 
legislature,  while  Stimson  put  his  stress  on  the  final  respon- 
sibility of  the  Governor  General  in  major  matters,  but  each 
recognized  the  validity  of  the  other's  position,  and  when  they 
parted  both  believed  that  effective  co-operation  could  be 
achieved  on  these  general  terms. 

These  conversations  with  Filipino  leaders  culminated  in 
a  meeting  on  September  9,  1926,  in  which  Stimson  presented 
a  memorandum  of  his  suggestions  to  Quezon,  Osmena,  and 
Manuel  Roxas  in  the  presence  of  Governor  General  Wood. 
In  this  memorandum  he  developed  in  detail  a  scheme  for 
combining  effective  executive  authority  with  the  beginnings 
of  responsible  Cabinet  government.  He  pointed  out  that  such 
a  plan  would  require  a  frank  recognition  by  the  Filipinos  of 
the  American  Governor's  executive  powers  under  the  organic 
law.  It  was  exactly  this  recognition  which  had  hitherto  been 
denied  to  General  Wood.  At  the  same  time  Stimson  pointed 
out  that  the  powers  vested  in  the  legislature  under  the  Organic 
Act  made  it  essential  for  the  two  branches  to  co-operate  and, 
as  the  best  means  to  this  end,  he  urged  that  Cabinet  appoint- 
ments by  the  Governor  should  be  drawn  from  the  party 
dominant  in  the  legislature.  The  memorandum  further  em- 
phasized certain  powers  which  must  be  reserved  to  the  Gov- 


ernor  and  concluded:  "If  this  whole  program  is  tried,  it  must 
be  first  broached  without  any  attempt  by  either  side  to  boast 
of  a  victory  over  the  other.  The  only  chance  of  its  success 
would  be  from  both  sides  treating  it  as  a  fresh  start  in  a  sincere 
effort  of  co-operation  between  American  and  Filipino  repre- 

But  a  fresh  start  was  exactly  what  could  not  be  expected  of 
either  Filipinos  or  Americans  under  the  administration  of 
General  Wood.  Both  sides,  and  in  Stimson's  opinion  the  Amer- 
icans more  justifiably,  were  keenly  aware  of  what  they  con- 
sidered the  bad  faith  and  unsympathetic  attitudes  of  the  other. 
And  General  Wood  was  by  no  means  disposed  to  accept  what 
he  considered  the  alien  principle  of  Cabinet  government,  no 
matter  what  restrictions  might  be  admitted  by  its  advocates. 
Stimson  left  the  Philippines  with  the  deadlock  unbroken  but 
without  finding  any  reason  to  change  his  opinion  that  there  re- 
mained only  personal  reasons  for  its  existence. 

In  public  statements  both  in  the  Philippines  and  after  his 
return  to  the  United  States,  Stimson  frankly  stated  his  general 
views  on  the  Philippine  situation.  In  the  Philippines,  acting 
to  support  his  friend  Wood,  he  strongly  defended  the  Wood 
administration  against  wild  charges  of  militarism  and  laid  the 
responsibility  for  non-co-operation  squarely  on  the  Filipino 
leaders.  In  his  statements  in  the  United  States  he  dealt  first 
with  the  general  question  of  independence,  basing  his  strong 
opposition  on  two  general  grounds.  First,  he  held  that  the 
Philippines  without  American  protection  must  certainly  be- 
come a  prey  to  one  or  another  of  the  expanding  and  over- 
populated  nations  in  the  Far  East.  Second,  and  this  was  the 
point  that  was  more  dear  to  him  although  the  one  less  pal- 
atable to  Filipino  leaders,  he  argued  that  the  American  re- 
sponsibility within  the  Philippines  would  not  be  fully  dis- 
charged until  there  had  been  widely  established  in  the  Islands 
the  attitudes  of  mind  which  would  permit  the  unsupervised 
survival  of  free  democratic  institutions. 

So  far  from  finding  hope  of  progress  in  the  idea  of  in- 
dependence, Stimson  argued  that  discussion  of  this  issue  was 
indeed  a  serious  obstacle  to  effective  political  development  in 
the  Islands  and  urged  that  the  United  States  adopt  a  fixed 


policy  of  maintaining  its  responsibility  in  the  Philippines 
while  aiming  at  increasng  self-government  and  ever  closer 
co-operation  between  the  Filipino  and  American  peoples. 

In  the  summer  of  1927,  having  returned  to  the  United  States 
for  a  badly  needed  rest.  General  Wood  finally  consented  to  a 
long-deferred  operation  and  died  on  the  operating  table,  the 
victim  of  his  own  tenacious  courage.  Later  in  the  year,  while 
President  Coolidge  was  still  considering  his  choice  of  a  new 
Governor  General,  Quezon  and  Osmena  came  to  the  United 
States  to  give  their  advice  in  the  matter.  At  the  end  of  Novem- 
ber they  called  on  Stimson  in  New  York  and  strongly  urged 
him  to  accept  appointment  as  the  next  Governor.  That  these 
two  leaders  should  make  such  a  plea  to  such  a  man  at  such  a 
time  was  remarkable.  In  his  public  statements  and  in  his 
private  conversations  Stimson  had  never  concealed  three  opin- 
ions which  Filipino  leaders  could  hardly  be  expected  to  ap- 
prove. As  part  of  his  conviction  that  the  Philippines  were  not 
ready  for  independence,  he  had  emphasized  "the  Malay  ten- 
dency to  backslide" ;  he  had  warned  that  political  leadership 
in  the  Islands  was  confined  to  a  small  group  of  educated 
mestizos,  who  might  be  expected,  if  the  Islands  were  turned 
loose,  to  govern  as  an  undemocratic  oligarchy  with  small  re- 
gard for  the  interests  of  the  great  farming  masses ;  finally,  he 
had  constantly  and  vigorously  asserted  the  absolute  present 
necessity  of  retaining  final  authority  in  the  hands  of  an  Amer- 
ican Governor  General.  All  of  these  views  were  well  known 
to  Quezon  and  Osmena,  and  yet  they  promised  that  if  he 
should  come  as  Governor  General  he  could  be  assured  of  their 
energetic  co-operation,  and  "when  I  suggested  that  such  co- 
operation must  involve  no  surrender  of  American  principle, 
they  cordially  accepted  that  limitation."6 

The  position  then  taken  by  Quezon  and  Osmena,  and  loyally 
maintained  by  them  afterwards,  could  only  be  explained  in 
terms  of  their  willingness  to  accept  at  face  value  Stimson's 
assurances  that  his  position,  like  that  of  McKinley,  Root,  Taft, 

6  Annual  Report  of  the  Governor  General  of  the  Philippine  Islands,  1928,  printed 
as  House  Document  No.  133,  yist  Congress,  2nd  Session,  p.  2;  hereafter  in  this 
chapter  this  document  is  called  simply  "Report.51 


Forbes,  and  Wood,  was  based  primarily  on  a  genuine  concern 
for  the  interests  of  the  Filipino  people  and  no  one  else.  It 
was  this  basic  Filipino  trust  in  American  colonial  policy  that 
made  the  relations  of  the  United  States  in  the  Philippines 
different  from  those  of  any  other  colonial  power  with  any 
other  subject  people;  and  although  in  their  more  explosive 
moments  Filipino  leaders  were  capable  of  vigorous  anti-Amer- 
ican statements,  neither  to  their  own  people  nor. to  Americans 
familiar  with  the  Islands  were  these  statements  ever  so  sig- 
nificant as  the  basic  friendliness  "which  belied  them.  There 
can  be  no  understanding  of  the  history  of  American  possession 
of  the  Philippine  Islands  without  an  appreciation  of  this  fun- 
damental fact. 

With  the  assurance  of  support  from  the  two  outstanding 
Filipino  leaders  of  the  day,  Stimson  in  due  course  accepted 
President  Coolidge's  offer  of  appointment  as  Governor  Gen- 
eral ;  for  he  saw  every  reason  to  hope  that  he  might  become  a 
leading  instrument  in  the  realization  of  the  brave  hope  for 
a  co-operative  advance  toward  self-government  which  he  had 
outlined  a  year  before.  It  was  an  opportunity  too  great  to  be 

2.   A  HAPPY  YEAR 

When  the  new  Governor  General  and  Mrs.  Stimson  dis- 
embarked in  Manila  on  the  first  of  March,  1928,  they  entered 
a  world  so  different  from  the  one  they  had  left  that  in  retro- 
spect it  often  seemed  to  both  of  them  that  their  year  in  the 
Philippines  was  a  dream.  The  three  thousand  islands  of  the 
tropical  archipelago  offered  a  variety  of  strange  scenic  beauty 
that  had  already  in  their  earlier  visit  caught  their  fascinated 
admiration.  The  eleven  million  people  of  many  different  races 
varied  in  their  nature  from  the  small  pure-blooded  Spanish 
colony  in  Manila  to  the  primitive  pagan  tribes  of  the  moun- 
tains. In  the  civilization  of  the  Philippines  could  be  found  in 
wonderful  admixture  the  effects  of  Malay  inheritance,  Moslem 
invasion,  Spanish  occupation,  Christian  conversion,  and  Amer- 
ican education. 

All  this  had  been  quite  sufficiently  exciting  to  the  Stimsons 
when  they  came  merely  as  visitors.  Now  as  the  Governor 
General  and  his  lady  they  were  to  be  the  living  symbols  of 


the  far-off  supreme  authority  of  the  United  States  Govern- 
ment. Stimson  was  now  to  be  the  agent  of  the  great  republic 
and  upon  him  would  rest  the  final  authority  and  the  final 
responsibility  for  government.  To  eleven  million  people  he 
was  now  representative  of  America  and  in  his  every  move 
there  would  be  judged  not  an  individual  but  the  whole  of 
American  colonial  policy. 

And  he  was  not  merely  representative.  It  had  been  the  tra- 
dition since  the  days  of  Taft  that  Governors  General  in  the 
Philippines  should  be  left  free  by  Washington  to  execute  their 
own  policies  in  their  own  way.  President  Coolidge,  of  all  the 
Chief  Executives  whom  Stimson  served  under,  was  the  most 
firm  in  giving  to  his  subordinates  both  freedom  and  full 
support.  It  was  typical  of  the  man  to  have  suggested  to  Stim- 
son that  if  a  letter  of  instructions  was  needed,  Stimson  should 
write  it  himself.  There  was  no  letter,  and  no  order  of  any  kind, 
except  to  do  a  good  job.  For  Stimson  Mr.  Coolidge  was  a  per- 
fect chief. 

The  first  task  of  the  new  Governor  General  was  to  make 
effective  use  of  the  "co-operation1'  which  he  had  been  prom- 
ised. On  March  2  he  talked  privately  for  an  hour  and  a  half 
with  Osmefia,  the  Acting  President  of  the  Senate,  and  Roxas, 
the  Speaker  of  the  House;  Senate  President  Quezon  was  in 
the  United  States  under  treatment  for  tuberculosis.  This  con- 
versation was  followed  by  another  the  following  day,  and 
during  the  weeks  that  followed,  Osmefia  and  Roxas  were 
frequent  visitors  at  Malacanari  Palace,  the  Philippine  White 

Though  the  root  of  the  problem  of  co-operation  lay  in  atti- 
tudes and  policies  which  have  already  been  discussed,  it  is  im- 
portant to  understand  the  particular  facts  of  the  situation  faced 
by  Stimson  and  his  Filipino  leaders.  Under  the  Jones  Law, 
or  Organic  Act,  of  1916,  which  had  the  same  standing  in 
Filipino  law  as  the  Constitution  in  the  United  States,  the  pow- 
ers of  the  Philippine  Government  were  sharply  divided  into 
the  traditional  three  areas  of  legislative,  executive,  and  judi- 
cial power.  The  elected  House  and  Senate7  held  a  legislative 
authority  differing  from  that  of  their  American  counterparts 

7  A  few  seats,  less  than  10  per  cent,  were  filled  by  executive  appointment  to  insure 
representation  of  the  non-Christian  tribes. 


only  in  that  laws  of  certain  kinds  required  the  approval  of  the 
American  President,  while  laws  of  any  kind  might  be  annulled 
by  the  American  Congress.  Neither  of  these  powers  was  often 
used,  although  of  course  their  existence  had  a  substantial  effect 
on  the  initiative  of  the  Philippine  legislature.  The  sig- 
nificant legislative  authority  of  the  Filipinos,  however,  rested 
less  in  their  affirmative  than  in  their  negative  prerogatives.  By 
refusing  confirmation  to  the  nominees  of  the  Governor  Gen- 
eral, the  Senate  might  seriously  hamper  his  work,  and  both 
houses  possessed  the  far  broader  power  to  refuse  new  legisla- 
tion or  appropriations.  Though  somewhat  limited  by  a  pro- 
vision continuing  the  appropriations  of  the  previous  year 
whenever  no  appropriation  bill  should  be  passed,  this  control 
over  the  law  and  the  purse  strings  effectively  insured  to  the 
Filipinos  a  power  of  veto  over  all  new  projects  of  the  Gover- 
nor General.  And  it  would  be  wrong  to  suppose  that  the 
Governor  General  had  any  certain  escape  from  this  veto  to 
the  supreme  authority  of  the  American  Congress,  for  in  that 
body  his  recommendations  would  be  balanced  against  those 
of  the  Filipinos  and  against  other  considerations  more  influ- 
ential than  either.  Generally  speaking,  both  the  Governor 
General  and  the  Filipino  leaders  were  well  off  when  ignored 
by  Congress. 

The  executive  power  of  the  Philippine  Government  be- 
longed to  the  Governor  General  under  the  general  supervision 
of  the  President  of  the  United  States.  The  provisions  of  the 
Jones  Law  on  this  point  were  complete  and  explicit,  so  much 
so  that  they  had  been  particularly  emphasized  to  Governor 
General  Harrison  by  Secretary  of  War  Baker  at  the  time  of 
the  passage  of  the  act.  "All  executive  functions  of  the  govern- 
ment must  be  directly  under  the  Governor  General  or  within 
one  of  the  executive  departments  under  the  supervision  and 
control  of  the  Governors  General,"  said  the  Act.  This  was  the 
authority  which  had  been  partly  discarded  by  Harrison  and 
restored  against  opposition  by  Wood. 

The  Supreme  Court  of  the  Philippines,  subject  to  review 
by  the  United  States  Supreme  Court,  was  granted  judicial 
powers  like  those  of  its  superior.  A  majority  of  the  Court,  in 
Stimson's  time,  were  Americans,  and  the  appointive  power 


rested  with  the  American  President.  Judges  of  lower  courts 
were  appointed  by  the  Governor  General  i;by  and  with  the 
advice  and  consent  of  the  Philippine  Senate/' 

But  wrhile  the  final  authority  in  the  executive  and  judicial 
branches  rested  with  Americans,  it  must  be  remembered  that 
except  at  the  very  top,  in  the  Governor  General's  office  and  in 
the  insular  Supreme  Court,  almost  all  of  the  officers  of  these 
branches  were  Filipinos.  When  Stimson  arrived  in  Manila, 
only  the  Vice  Governor  (who  was  ex  officio  the  Secretary  of 
Public  Instruction)  and  the  Auditor,  of  his  official  family, 
were  Americans.  The  men  in  charge  of  the  remaining  execu- 
tive departments  were  Filipinos,  and  their  subordinates  were 
Filipinos.  The  elected  Governors  of  the  provinces,  except  those 
mainly  inhabited  by  the  non-Christian  tribes,  were  Filipinos. 
So  were  most  of  the  judges  of  lower  courts  and  a  large  minor- 
ity of  the  Supreme  Court. 

There  was  thus  no  question  of  instituting  or  maintaining  an 
administration  of  the  Islands  by  Americans.  The  day-to-day 
administration  now  belonged  to  the  Filipinos,  and  no  Amer- 
ican could  reverse  this  situation,  even  if  he  wanted  to.  Stimson 
had  around  him  in  1928  and  1929  not  more  than  half  a  dozen 
American  assistants  of  any  direct  importance  to  him ;  these  men 
made  up  in  energy  and  devotion  much  of  what  they  lacked  in 
numbers,  but  they  were  necessarily  auxiliary  agents,  not  leaders 
in  their  own  right. 

Yet  there  persisted  a  natural  fear  among  Filipinos  that  in 
the  exercise  of  his  indisputable  final  power  the  Governor  Gen- 
eral might  in  effect  nullify  the  Filipinization  of  the  civil  serv- 
ice and  the  executive  departments,  and  it  was  one  of  the  first 
fruits  of  Stimson's  cordial  relationship  with  Osmena  and 
Roxas  that  he  found  a  way  to  reassure  the  public  on  this  point. 
Being  informed  by  them  that  Filipinos  were  nervous  about 
his  intentions  in  dealing  with  his  subordinates,  he  wrote  and 
made  public  a  letter  denying  one  of  the  frequent  requests  he 
received  for  intervention.  In  the  course  of  this  letter  he  re- 
marked that  "The  Organic  law,  which  forms  the  basic  consti- 
tution of  our  government  in  the  islands,  certainly  does  not 
contemplate  that  I  should  substitute  my  own  personal  judg- 
ment for  the  official  judgment  of  the  various  executive  of- 


ficers  to  whom  by  law  the  administration  of  such  details  .  .  . 
is  intrusted  in  the  conduct  of  the  insular  government.  The 
great  power  of  supervision  and  control  over  the  executive 
functions  of  government  which  that  Organic  law  imposes 
upon  me  should  ordinarily  not  be  invoked  to  interfere  with 
the  conduct  of  government  by  my  subordinates,  unless  they 
have  been  guilty  of  some  misconduct  or  negligence  deserving 
of  grave  reprehension  or  even  removal  from  office."8 

Taken  by  itself,  this  letter  would  give  an  unbalanced  view 
of  Stimson's  position.  Like  almost  every  aspect  of  his  policy 
in  the  Philippines,  the  question  was  two-sided;  if  it  would  be 
usurpation  to  butt  into  the  ordinary  business  of  his  subordi- 
nates, it  would  be  faithless  abdication  not  to  maintain  and 
exercise  his  duty  of  "supervision  and  control,"  and  long  before 
his  arrival  in  the  Philippines  Stimson  had  made  it  clear  that 
he  favored  action  to  enable  the  Governor  General  to  carry 
out  this  duty  more  effectively.  He  had  strongly  urged  the 
prompt  enactment  of  a  bill  pending  in  Washington  which 
would  provide  the  Governor  with  technical  advisers  and  in- 
vestigating assistants  responsible  directly  to  him  and  to  him 
alone.  This  bill  was  opposed  by  Filipino  leaders,  who  feared 
that  it  aimed  at  the  substitution  of  Americans  for  Filipinos  in 
the  actual  administration  of  the  Islands,  and  who  in  any  case 
did  not  notably  share  Stimson's  enthusiasm  for  effective  "super- 
vision and  control." 

The  solution  of  this  problem  on  a  mutually  satisfactory 
basis  was  in  Stimson's  view  one  of  the  most  striking  successes 
of  his  year  in  the  Philippines.  While  the  Washington  legisla- 
tion was  still  awaiting  action,  and  after  prolonged  confer- 
ences and  final  agreement  with  Stimson,  the  Philippine  legisla- 
ture itself  passed  in  August  a  law  (the  Belo  Act)  providing 
the  Governor  General  with  the  necessary  money  and  author- 
ity for  personal  assistants,  American  or  Filipino,  and,  as  Stim- 
son remarked  in  a  public  statement,  it  did  so  "in  a  way  to 
insure  the  permanence  and  non-partisan  character  of  the 
provision  quite  as  effectively  as  if  it  had  been  furnished  by 
congressional  action."  For  the  act  contained  a  permanent  ap- 
propriation, any  change  in  which  would  be  subject  to  a  guber- 

8  Report,  Appendix  A. 


natorial  veto.  For  his  part,  in  the  same  statement  Stimson  made 
clear  his  intention  not  to  interfere  with  the  exercise  of  ad- 
ministrative duties  by  his  Filipino  officials.  uThe  true  purpose 
of  the  statute  is  just  the  opposite,  namely,  to  develop  the  auton- 
omy of  the  heads  of  the  departments  by  placing  the  Governor 
General  in  a  position  where  he  can  safely  intrust  ever  widen- 
ing powers  of  discretion  to  those  department  heads  with  the 
assurance  that  he  will,  nevertheless,  be  kept  in  touch  with  the 
progress  of  government  and  so  provided  with  the  informa- 
tion necessary  for  his  action,  under  the  Organic  law,  in  cases 
of  dereliction  or  neglect  of  duty  on  their  part."9 

Parallel  with  this  clarification  of  the  Governor  General's 
position  in  the  executive  department  was  the  even  more  im- 
portant work  of  establishing  a  clear  working  relationship  with 
the  legislature.  Here  again  the  question  was  two-sided.  On 
the  one  hand,  Stimson  had  no  intention  of  violating  the  Jones 
Law  by  surrendering  to  the  legislators  his  final  responsibility, 
but  at  the  same  time  he  recognized  the  force  of  Quezon's  con- 
tention that  the  legislative  branch,  which  contained  the  active 
political  leaders  of  the  Filipino  people,  could  hardly  make 
progress  toward  self-government  unless  it  were  brought  into 
close  connection  with  the  administrative  work  of  government. 
Otherwise,  under  the  Jones  Law,  its  essential  powers  would 
be  merely  negative  and  sterile. 

In  this  problem,  as  in  many  others,  the  solution  was  made 
easier  by  the  work  of  Leonard  Wood.  Under  Harrison  the 
Philippine  legislature,  reaching  out  for  new  authority  and 
power,  had  established  a  number  of  government-owned  cor- 
porations and  had  placed  the  voting  power  of  these  corpora- 
tions in  the  hands  of  a  Board  of  Control  in  which  the  Gov- 
ernor General  could  be  outvoted  by  his  two  colleagues,  the 
President  of  the  Senate  and  the  Speaker  of  the  House.  These 
corporations,  which  included  the  national  bank,  were  a  trans- 
parent device  for  evading  the  authority  of  the  American  execu- 
tive. Wood  had  abolished  the  Board  of  Control  as  a  violation 
of  the  Jones  Law,  and  when  Stimson  took  office  an  appeal 
against  his  assumption  of  personal  authority  over  the  govern- 
ment-owned corporations  was  awaiting  final  judgment  in  the 

9  Public  memorandum  of  August  8,  1928,  Report,  Appendix  C. 


United  States  Supreme  Court.  The  decision  handed  down  on 
May  14  fully  upheld  Wood  and  reasserted  in  unmistakable 
terms  the  authority  of  the  Governor  General.  Without  any 
action  of  his  own,  therefore,  and  without  the  unpleasant  duty 
of  making  a  decision,  Stimson  found  his  authority  strongly 
reinforced.  The  government-owned  corporations  had  always 
been  extremely  interesting  to  Filipino  politicians,  and  his  un- 
disputed control  of  them  placed  him  in  a  strong  bargaining 
position.  At  the  same  time  he  could  afford  to  be  generous  and 
make  a  co-operative  gesture.  "I  let  it  be  known  that  whereas 
I  proposed  to  retain  and  exercise  all  the  powers  vested  in  me 
by  the  decision  of  the  Supreme  Court,  I  did  not  intend  to 
make  any  immediate  or  radical  change  in  the  management  of 
these  corporations  and  would  devote  myself  to  a  careful  study 
of  their  requirements,  and  that  in  such  action  as  I  eventually 
took  I  would  endeavor  to  carry  out  the  legitimate  purposes 
which  the  Filipinos  had  in  mind  in  establishing  these  corpora- 
tions so  far  as  that  could  be  done  without  danger  to  their 
security  or  the  violation  of  more  fundamental  policy."10 

With  his  authority  firmly  established,  and  his  determina- 
tion to  maintain  it  clear,  Stimson  proceeded  to  take  three  steps, 
with  the  concurrence  of  the  Filipino  leaders,  which  estab- 
lished a  working  machinery  for  co-operation  with  the  legisla- 
ture. A  favorable  opportunity  for  these  moves  was  created  by 
the  insular  elections  in  June.  Although  Stimson  was  disap- 
pointed at  the  absence  of  any  "clear-cut  normal  insular  issues 
between  the  two  principal  parties,"  there  was  one  issue  of 
major  importance — that  of  co-operation  or  non-co-operation 
with  the  new  Governor  General.  "The  result  of  this  issue  was 
fortunate  for  future  co-operation.  All  of  the  candidates  who 
raised  it  were  defeated.  .  .  ."u  The  Nationalista  party, 
led  by  Quezon,  Osmena,  and  Roxas,  was  returned  with 
handsome  majorities  in  both  houses,  and  when  the  Eighth 
Philippine  Legislature  convened  in  July,  the  time  was  ripe 
for  steps  toward  formalizing  the  co-operation  which  had  thus 
far  been  maintained  by  constant  conference  between  Stimson, 
Osmena,  and  Roxas. 

10  Report,  p.  6. 
"Report,  p.  5. 


First,  Stimson  appointed  a  Cabinet  from  members  of  the 
Nationalista  party,  after  discussing  his  nominees  with  the 
party's  leaders.  It  will  be  remembered  that  the  Islands  had 
been  without  a  Cabinet  since  Wood's  acceptance  of  the  resig- 
nations of  all  but  one  of  his  Cabinet  in  1923.  The  re-establish- 
ment of  that  body,  and  the  appointment  of  men  who  were  of 
the  same  party  as  that  which  controlled  the  legislature,  "was 
the  principal  and  most  direct  step  toward  securing  co-opera- 
tion between  that  body  and  the  executive.  It  postulated  that 
in  the  performance  of  their  administrative  duties  they  should 
be  a  loyal  part  of  an  independent  executive  and  yet  at  the  same 
time  in  constant  touch  with  the  legislature,  and  therefore  sym- 
pathetic and  responsive  to  the  policies  laid  down  by  that  body." 
And  in  Stimson's  time  that  postulate  was  thoroughly  sustained. 
"The  Secretaries  of  departments  became  true  and  efficient 
constitutional  advisers.  ...  I  believe  that  the  change  wrought 
by  their  appointment  was  little  short  of  revolutionary."12 

In  their  conversations  of  1926,  both  Stimson  and  Osmefia 
had  mentioned  with  favor  the  possibility  of  appointing  Cab- 
inet members  from  the  legislature  itself,  and  not  merely  from 
the  party  there  dominant.  But  in  1928  certain  legal  doubts  on 
both  sides  prevented  such  a  step,  and  it  therefore  became  neces- 
sary to  find  another  method  for  the  establishment  of  close 
relations  between  the  members  of  the  Cabinet  and  the  legisla- 
tors. The  solution  found  was  the  amendment  of  the  rules  of 
procedure  of  the  two  houses  to  permit  to  Cabinet  members 
the  privileges  of  the  floor.  A  plan  which  Stimson  had  vainly 
urged  in  New  York  in  1915  thus  came  to  life  ten  thousand 
miles  away. 

The  third  step  in  the  co-operative  machinery,  and  to  Filipi- 
nos the  most  important,  was  the  re-establishment  of  the  Coun- 
cil of  State,  another  organization  set  up  by  Harrison  and 
dismantled  by  Wood.  The  Council  of  State  was  a  body  con- 
sisting of  the  Governor  General,  his  Cabinet,  and  the  presid- 
ing officers  and  majority  floor  leaders  of  the  two  houses  of  the 
legislature.  Stimson's  Council,  unlike  Harrison's,  was,  by  the 
terms  of  the  order  creating  it,  purely  advisory.  Stimson  made 
this  limitation  entirely  clear  to  the  Filipino  leaders  before  he 

^Report,  pp.  7,  8. 


set  it  up ;  he  did  not  want  them  to  have  any  great  hopes  which 
might  later  be  jarred.  He  hoped  that  the  Council  of  State, 
like  the  Cabinet,  would  lead  to  increasing  participation  by 
Filipinos  in  the  work  of  government,  but  he  could  not  permit 
any  such  development  to  undermine  his  basic  powers,  and 
particularly  in  the  three  fields  of  health,  finance,  and  law  and 
order  he  must  retain  an  untrammeled  jurisdiction.  These 
reservations  were  not  of  serious  present  concern  to  the  Fil- 
ipinos; as  Osmena  put  it,  the  legal  forms  of  the  Council  of 
State  were  unimportant,  "its  political  function  of  co-operation 
being  the  important  one."  (Diary,  March  20,  1928) 

It  would  be  easy  to  misunderstand  the  meaning  of  these 
steps  toward  co-operative  government,  and  there  were  a  few 
in  Manila  who  did  so  misunderstand  them.  On  the  one  hand, 
Americans  who  had  hoped  for  a  "firmer"  policy  argued  that 
the  new  Governor  General  was  undoing  the  good  work  of 
General  Wood.  On  the  other  hand,  a  few  opposition  Filipinos, 
as  Quezon  reported  with  some  amusement  to  Stimson,  took  to 
"spreading  around  the  story  that  I  was  the  ablest  and  most 
dangerous  Governor-General  that  was  ever  in  the  Islands, 
and  that  while  I  wore  an  ingratiating  smile,  I  was  engaged  in 
destroying  their  liberties."  (Diary,  October  17,  1928)  But  the 
bulk  of  the  Filipino  press  and  public,  along  with  the  majority 
of  Filipino  politicians,  were  as  cordial  in  their  support  of  the 
new  policy  as  Stimson's  superiors  in  Washington.  The  Amer- 
ican public,  too,  was  pleased,  insofar  as  it  considered  the 
Philippine  problem  at  all.  Neither  Filipinos  nor  Americans 
were  disturbed  by  the  theoretical  incompatibility  of  keeping 
final  authority  while  maintaining  close  co-operation  with  legis- 
lative leaders.  In  practice  no  such  incompatibility  existed. 

Probably  Stimson's  greatest  asset  in  carrying  out  the  above 
policy  was  that  the  Filipinos  trusted  him.  He  had  gone  out  of 
his  way  to  earn  their  trust,  and  he  described  the  method  he 
followed  in  some  detail  in  his  report  to  the  President  at  the 
end  of  the  year.  "In  view  of  misunderstandings  of  past  years, 
I  think  it  worth  while  to  record  certain  features  in  detail  for 
the  benefit  of  American  administrators  who,  like  myself,  may 
be  without  previous  experience  in  the  Orient.  When  I  as- 
sumed office  I  was  warned  that  the  nature  of  the  oriental  was 


such  that  it  would  be  dangerous  for  me  to  confer  with  them 
without  the  presence  of  American  witnesses.  I  rejected  this 
advice,  feeling  that  it  was  better  to  trust  and  be  betrayed  than 
to  make  mutual  confidence  impossible.  So  far  as  I  am  aware, 
I  was  not  betrayed  in  a  single  instance ;  and  the  character  of 
our  conferences  became  such  that  I  was  frequently  made  the 
recipient  of  confidences  by  the  Filipino  leaders  which  proved 
of  priceless  value  to  my  administration.  Again,  bearing  in 
mind  the  responsibilities  of  leadership  in  political  organiza- 
tions in  the  United  States,  I  was  very  careful  never  to  surprise 
the  Filipino  leaders  of  the  party  organizations  with  which  I 
was  dealing  by  an  executive  decision  of  any  importance.  In- 
stead I  always  conferred  with  them  about  it  beforehand,  giving 
them  an  opportunity  to  discuss  it  and,  if  finally  decided  on,  to 
prepare  their  followers  for  its  announcement.  Furthermore,  if 
possible  the  announcement  of  such  a  decision  was  always  made 
as  one  in  which  they  had  participated  or  had  suggested.  In 
that  way  many  an  important  executive  policy,  which  inevi- 
tably would  have  been  resented  by  Filipino  public  opinion  had 
it  been  deemed  to  be  sole  act  of  an  alien  executive,  was  ac- 
cepted or  welcomed  as  coming  also  from  their  own  leaders. 
These  precautions  may  seem  trivial  and  self-evident,  but  in 
such  a  situation  as  exists  in  the  Philippines  I  am  satisfied  that 
they  are  vital,  and  unless  they  are  constantly  borne  in  mind, 
misunderstandings  and  suspicions  are  inevitable."13 

In  Manuel  Quezon's  autobiography  the  effect  of  this 
policy  is  clearly  described :  "Of  course  we  had  our  disagree- 
ments, but  we  discussed  our  differences  of  opinion  with  per- 
fect sincerity  and  frankness,  and  after  the  discussions  were 
over  there  was  never  a  bad  taste  in  our  mouths.  It  had  been  my 
wont  after  the  departure  of  Governor-General  Stimson  to  tell 
everyone  of  his  American  successors  . .  .  that  no  representative 
of  the  United  States  in  the  Philippines  had  won  my  respect 
and  even  my  personal  affection  more  than  did  Governor-Gen- 
eral Stimson.  This,  I  added,  was  due  to  the  fact  that  he  never 
left  me  in  doubt  as  to  what  he  had  in  mind  whenever  he  ex- 
pressed his  ideas  on  any  subject.  There  was  never  any  mental 
reservation  whenever  he  talked  to  me,  and  he  therefore  made 

13  Report,  pp.  2-3. 


me  feel  that  he  gave  me  his  entire  confidence  exactly  as  he 
would  have  done  it  if  I  had  been  an  American  sitting  at  his 
council  table  as  the  senior  member  of  his  official  family."14 

The  significant  phrase  in  Quezon's  comment  is  "exactly  as 
...  if  I  had  been  an  American."  Before  his  term  as  Governor 
General,  Stimson  had  himself  imperfectly  understood  the 
depth  of  racial  feeling  in  the  Philippines,  and  perhaps  more 
important  to  his  success  there  than  any  theory  of  co-operation 
was  his  early  appreciation  of  the  importance  of  avoiding  even 
the  appearance  of  racial  snobbery.  His  conversations  with 
Quezon  and  Osmeiia  before  taking  office  had  made  clear  the 
importance  of  this  matter,  and  he  was  thus  forewarned.  Arriv- 
ing in  the  Islands,  he  was  shocked  to  find  that  among  many 
Americans  the  early  friendliness  nourished  by  Taft  and  others 
had  given  way  to  an  attitude  more  like  that  of  the  traditional 
hard-bitten  commercial  white  men  in  the  Far  East.  Finding 
that  the  church  of  his  own  denomination  excluded  Filipinos, 
Stimson  angrily  shifted  his  allegiance  to  the  local  Episcopali- 
ans, who  were  still  carrying  on  the  great  work  begun  by 
Bishop  Charles  H.  Brent  a  generation  earlier.  And  with  Mrs. 
Stimson's  spirited  help,  he  set  out  to  demonstrate  that  Filipi- 
nos would  be  welcome  at  the  social  functions  of  the  Palace. 
The  results  were  prompt  and  overwhelming.  When  the  Gov- 
ernor General  and  his  lady  demonstrated  their  ability  to  dance 
the  Philippine  rlgodon  at  their  first  ball,  the  newspapers  were 
filled  with  flamboyant  satisfaction,  and  Mrs.  Stimson's  per- 
sonal triumph  was  complete  when  she  appeared  in  the  tradi- 
tional evening  dress  of  the  Filipina  three  months  later  at  a 
party  given  by  the  legislature  for  the  Governor  General. 
There  was  nothing  difficult  or  dutiful  about  such  gestures — 
they  were  indeed  very  easy  and  pleasant.  But  their  significance 
for  Stimson's  administration  can  hardly  be  overestimated. 
Late  in  the  year  of  her  residence,  as  she  was  walking  through 
the  Palace  with  a  group  of  friends,  among  them  Osmena,  Mrs. 
Stimson  was  complimented  on  certain  changes  she  had  made 
in  the  decoration  of  the  building.  "Mrs.  Stimson,"  said  Os- 
mena, "the  best  improvement  that  you  have  made  in  the  Pal- 

14 From  The  Good  Fight  by  Manuel  Luis  Quezon.  Copyright  1946,  by:  Aurora  A. 
Quezon,  Maria  Aurora  Quezon,  Maria  Zeneida  Quezon,  Manuel  L.  Quezon,  Jr. 
Reprinted  by  permission  of  Appleton-Century-Crofts,  Inc.,  publishers. 


ace  is  that  you  have  opened  its  doors  again  to  the  Filipinos." 
(Diary,  February  21,  1929) 

The  policy  and  technique  of  mutually  confident  co-opera- 
tion was  in  the  main  a  political  undertaking,  and  the  purposes 
by  which  Stimson  was  guided  were  mainly  political.  But  par- 
allel to  the  political  program,  and  interlocked  with  it  in  his 
thinking,  was  an  interest  in  the  economic  development  of  the 
Islands,  and  to  many  in  the  Philippines  who  were  not  deeply 
concerned  with  the  relationship  between  the  Governor  Gen- 
eral and  the  Philippine  legislature  it  appeared  that  the  pri- 
mary interest  and  purpose  of  Governor  Stimson  was  economic. 
Nor  did  Stimson  object  to  this  opinion.  The  economics  of  the 
Philippines  were  the  principal  subject  of  his  major  public  ad- 
dresses throughout  his  term.  If  political  theory  was  in  the  end 
more  significant  to  him  than  economics,  he  himself  empha- 
sized that  his  great  goal  of  stable  self-government  was  depend- 
ent on  economic  development. 

His  basic  position  was  stated  in  his  inaugural  address  on 
March  i.  "Among  the  various  matters  which  I  deem  impor- 
tant, I  lay  particular  stress  upon  industrial  and  economic  prog- 
ress. It  has  often  seemed  to  me  that  sometimes  in  our  insistence 
upon  political  development  we  overlook  the  importance  of 
the  economic  foundations  which  must  underlie  it  and  upon 
which  it  necessarily  rests.  By  some  of  us,  industrial  develop- 
ment has  even  been  dreaded  as  if  it  were  inconsistent  with  the 
liberties  of  a  people.  As  a  general  proposition,  I  believe  that 
no  greater  error  could  be  made."  The  speaker  continued  with 
a  recital  of  the  development  of  political  freedom  in  those  na- 
tions which  had  developed  a  "middle  artisan  class,"  the  indus- 
trial guild,  and  "in  later  days  the  trade  union."  Then  Stimson 
emphasized  that  "The  world  has  now  reached  a  stage  of  prog- 
ress where  government  is  expected  to  engage  in  activities  for 
the  social  benefit  or  protection  of  the  individual,  all  of  which 
are  expensive  and  require  greater  governmental  revenues.  .  .  . 
All  of  these  services  minister  to  the  comfort  and  welfare  of 
the  individual  citizens ;  some  of  them,  like  education,  directly 
conduce  to  his  ability  to  govern  himself.  Some  of  them  are 
particularly  necessary  in  the  tropics  with  its  constant  threat  of 


epidemic  disease.  But  they  all  cost  money.  ...  To  support 
them  a  community  must  possess  the  wealth  which  comes  only 
with  industrial  development" 

And  the  passage  ended  with  a  flat  assertion  that  political 
freedom  and  economic  strength  were  inseparable.  "In  short, 
it  is  the  simple  truth  not  only  that  individual  freedom  and  the 
practice  of  self-government  are  found  to  be  most  prevalent 
and  firmly  held  in  those  communities  and  nations  which  have 
a  highly  developed  system  of  industry  and  commerce  as  a 
foundation,  but  it  is  also  true  that  only  in  such  communities 
and  nations  can  the  average  citizen  attain  the  degree  of  indi- 
vidual comfort,  education,  and  culture  which  modern  civili- 
zation is  coming  to  demand."15  If  he  had  been  a  phrasemaker, 
Stimson  might  well  have  used  the  slogan  later  developed  by 
Wendell  Willkie :  "Only  the  productive  can  be  strong,  and 
only  the  strong  can  be  free." 

Of  itself,  this  doctrine  was  acceptable  enough  to  the  Fili- 
pinos, although  not  many  of  them  seemed  fully  to  grasp  the 
connection  between  economics  and  politics;  the  attitude  of 
leaders  with  whom  he  discussed  his  program  was  at  first  that 
economics  was  a  harmless  interest  of  the  Governor's  which 
they  were  quite  willing  to  indulge.  Their  faces  showed  keen 
interest  only  as  the  conversation  turned  to  such  matters  as  the 
revival  of  the  Council  of  State.  And  this  apathetic  attitude 
acquired  an  admixture  of  suspicion  and  fear  when  Stimson 
began  to  spell  out  the  practical  meaning  of  his  interest  in  eco- 
nomic development 

For  it  was  a  necessary  condition  of  economic  growth  in  the 
Philippines  that  large  quantities  of  foreign — presumably 
American — capital  be  attracted  to  the  Islands.  Without  heavy 
new  investment  neither  the  industries  nor  the  agriculture  of  the 
Philippines  could  produce  on  an  expanded  scale  in  competi- 
tion with  other  countries.  And  without  revision  of  the  Philip- 
pine corporation  laws  heavy  new  investment  could  not  be  ob- 
tained. Thus  the  program  of  the  Governor  General  flew 
squarely  in  the  face  of  the  natural  prejudices  which  the  Fili- 
pinos shared  with  most  colonial  peoples.  Hospitality  to  for- 
eign capital  is  not  a  popular  policy  in  most  such  countries,  and 

15  Report,  Appendix  E. 


the  inescapable  logic  which  requires  foreign  investment  as  the 
preliminary  to  economic  independence  is  often  obscured  by 
the  equally  inescapable  logic  by  which  uncontrolled  foreign 
investment  leads  to  economic  slavery.  Of  nothing  in  his  term 
as  Governor  General  was  Stimson  more  proud  than  of  his  suc- 
cess in  winning  Filipino  approval  of  a  more  liberal  corpora- 
tion law. 

His  preparations  were  careful.  Using  the  prestige  of  his 
own  official  utterances  to  emphasize  the  positive  values  of  eco- 
nomic development,  he  at  the  same  time  firmly  insisted  that 
no  laws  or  actions  giving  capital  unfair  advantages  would  ever 
command  his  support,  and  he  was  believed.  The  required  leg- 
islation was  prepared  not  in  the  Governor  General's  office  but 
by  a  committee  of  "prominent  and  respected  lawyers,"  both 
Filipino  and  American.  The  detailed  economic  position  of  the 
Islands  and  their  need  for  capital  was  expounded  in  a  separate 
report  by  a  visiting  American,  Vice  President  Lyman  P. 
Hammond  of  the  Electric  Bond  &  Share  Company.  Most  im- 
portant of  all,  Stimson  won  the  open  and  fighting  support  of 
Quezon,  who  returned  from  the  United  States  in  August. 
"After  studying  carefully  the  general  principles  involved  in 
the  legislation,  he  became  convinced  of  their  wisdom  and 
threw  himself  heart  and  soul  into  the  leadership  of  the  legisla- 
tive contest."  Since  the  support  of  Quezon  could  hardly  have 
been  obtained  without  the  previous  establishment  of  political 
co-operation,  it  is  evident  that  the  economic  program  was  quite 
as  dependent  on  politics  as  politics  on  economic  development. 

The  corporation  bills  were  not  passed  unamended.  One  of 
their  outstanding  provisions  was  the  repeal  of  "certain  enact- 
ments which  forbade  any  investor  to  be  interested  in  more  than 
one  agricultural  corporation  at  a  time."  These  enactments 
were  a  part  of  a  deeply  cherished  Filipino  land  policy  aimed 
at  the  prevention  of  great  corporate  land  holdings.  "The  av- 
erage Filipino  believes  that  it  is  better  for  his  country  to 
be  slowly  and  gradually  developed  by  a  population  of  compar- 
atively small  individual  landowners  than  to  be  more  rapidly 
exploited  by  a  few  large  corporations  which  own  the  land  and 
till  it  either  with  tenant  farmers  or  hired  employees."  If  for- 
eign investment  could  only  be  obtained  by  authorizing  hold- 


Ing  companies  which  would  in  effect  nullify  this  land  policy, 
he  wanted  no  part  of  it.  This  feeling  Stimson  at  first  imper- 
fectly appreciated.  But  as  he  studied  the  problem  he  was 
largely  converted  to  the  Filipino  position.  "The  existence  of 
this  native  sentiment  has  not  been  generally  recognized  in  the 
United  States,  but  the  events  of  my  own  year's  experience 
brought  it  to  my  attention  as  one  of  the  deepest  and  most  con- 
trolling currents  of  public  opinion  in  the  Islands  and  one 
which  it  would  be  folly  to  disregard  or  attempt  to  defy."1G 
The  corporation  bills,  as  finally  passed,  contained  provisions 
designed  to  prevent  holding  companies  from  obtaining  finan- 
cial control  of  the  corporations  in  which  they  might  invest, 
and  Stimson  pledged  himself  to  vigilance  in  recommending 
further  changes  should  they  be  necessary  to  protect  the  historic 
land  policy  of  the  Islands.  And  a  few  months  later  he  officially 
discouraged  a  major  American  rubber  company  from  under- 
taking any  large-scale  land  purchases. 

The  prolonged  public  debate  over  the  corporation  bills  was 
in  Stimson's  view  of  great  educational  value.  It  directed  the 
attention  of  the  Filipinos  toward  the  basic  economic  realities 
of  their  situation,  and  as  by-products  of  the  discussion  a  num- 
ber of  less  important  but  useful  economic  measures  were 
passed  by  the  legislature.  A  good  beginning  was  thus  made  on 
a  purpose  which  Stimson  ranked  far  above  any  merely  legisla- 
tive accomplishment,  however  necessary,  namely,  "to  trans- 
form the  attitude  of  the  minds  of  the  whole  people  on  this 
subject  so  that  they  should  recognize  that  such  development 
might,  if  intelligently  handled,  be  made  an  aid,  and  not  an 
enemy,  to  their  aspirations  for  freedom."17 

Stimson  had  originally  intended  not  to  remain  as  Governor 
General  more  than  a  year,  but  as  1928  drew  to  an  end,  he 
found  himself  drawn  more  and  more  to  a  reconsideration  of 
his  original  plan.  His  policies  of  economic  development  and 
political  co-operation  were  fairly  launched,  but  both  of  them 
still  depended  in  considerable  measure  on  his  personal  pres- 
tige ;  neither  could  yet  be  called  a  solid  tradition.  The  detailed 

16  Report,  p.  4. 

17  Report,  p.  9. 


application  of  both  was  only  beginning,  and  Stimson  felt  the 
urge  of  the  successful  builder  not  to  leave  his  work  at  a  time 
when  it  was  progressing  so  favorably.  More  than  that,  he  liked 
the  life  of  the  Governor  General.  The  frequent  trips  of  inspec- 
tion gave  full  rein  to  his  hankering  for  travel  and  for  sport, 
wThile  at  the  same  time  the  viceroyal  privileges  of  the  Gover- 
nor were  not  unpleasant.  Compared  to  the  life  of  a  practicing 
New  York  lawyer,  it  was  not  an  unduly  strenuous  existence, 
and  like  most  of  his  predecessors  Stimson  had  been  captivated 
by  the  unaffected  trust  and  affection  so  freely  granted 
by  the  Filipino  people.  The  assignment  thus  combined  a  more 
agreeable  life  than  the  one  he  had  left  with  very  much  greater 
opportunities  for  usefulness.  But  events  in  the  United  States 
intervened  to  prevent  the  gratification  of  his  wish.  Mr.  Her- 
bert Hoover  had  been  elected  President  and  he  desired  Stim- 
son's  presence  in  his  Cabinet  in  a  position  far  more  important 
than  that  of  Governor  General  of  the  Philippine  Islands.  At 
the  end  of  January,  1929,  Stimson  accepted  appointment  as 
Mr.  Hoover's  Secretary  of  State,  and  a  month  later  he  sailed 
from  Manila,  never  to  return.  His  direct  connection  with  the 
Philippine  Islands  thus  came  to  an  end  just  a  year  after  his 
arrival  in  Manila. 

His  last  month  in  the  Islands  was  at  once  one  of  the  most 
active  and  one  of  the  most  satisfactory  in  Stimson's  entire  life. 
Against  the  background  of  his  deep  private  happiness  in  the 
prospect  of  four  years  of  service  in  the  highest  appointive  of- 
fice in  the  American  Government  there  unrolled  a  series  of 
events  which  served  to  cement  in  lasting  form  his  devoted  af- 
fection for  the  Philippine  Islands  and  their  people.  The  news 
of  his  new  assignment  was  greeted  with  enthusiasm  by  all  sec- 
tions of  Manila  opinion;  the  press  and  political  leaders  vied 
with  one  another  in  expressions  of  their  approval  of  his  work 
and  their  good  wishes  for  his  future.  In  the  legislature  the 
prevalent  good  feeling  took  the  practical  form  of  rapid  ap- 
proval in  a  special  session  (summoned  by  Stimson  before  his 
appointment)  of  a  series  of  measures  sponsored  by  the  Gover- 
nor General.  The  legislature  further  took  the  unprecedented 
step  of  inviting  the  Governor  to  address  it.  In  this,  his  last 
major  public  statement,  Stimson  paid  his  tribute  to  Quezon, 


Osmena,  and  Roxas— "It  has  been  my  good  fortune  to  have 
been  in  public  life  at  different  times  and  in  different  capacities 
and  to  have  met  with  many  men  in  public  life  in  my  own 
country.  Never  have  I  received  more  loyal  friendship,  more 
frank  and  fair  treatment  than  I  have  received  from  the  gentle- 
men who  have  been  the  heads  of  your  two  houses."  He  added 
similar  and  equally  sincere  words  of  praise  for  the  legislature 
itself,  and  for  his  Cabinet — "I  will  not  admit  that  any  Gover- 
nor General  in  the  whole  history  of  these  Islands  has  ever  had 
as  good  a  Cabinet  as  I  have  nowr."  Then  he  re-emphasized,  to 
loud  applause,  his  conviction  that  by  traveling  along  the  "path- 
way of  economic  development"  the  legislature  was  "traveling 
along  the  road  which  eventually  leads  to  self-government  and 
freedom."  And  he  ended  on  a  note  of  personal  gratitude: 
"NowT,  my  friends,  it  is  approaching  the  time  when  I  must  say 
farewell.  I  hate  to  say  it.  I  came  here  as  a  stranger  to  a  strange 
land,  and  I  have  found  nothing  but  kindness  and  friendship. 
I  have  not  even  an  uncomfortable  memory  of  that  wonderful 

year My  wife  and  I  have  felt  the  \varmth  of  your  affection 

and  wre  value  it  more  than  I  can  say.  I  am  not  going  to  try  to 
express  it.  I  only  wish  to  say  in  going  that  although  I  shall 
not  be  present  writh  you,  I  shall  be  your  friend  at  home ;  and 
I  shall  carry  away  memories  which  have  caused  me  to  feel 
the  greatest  possible  obligation  to  the  kindness  of  your  people; 
and  I  shall  not  forget  it." 

On  March  3  Stimson  sailed  from  Manila.  "The  Cabinet 
and  Staff  came  with  Quezon  and  Roxas  to  the  Palace  to  say 
good-by  and  go  writh  us  to  the  pier.  Quezon  brought  a  beauti- 
ful silk  Governor  General's  flag  made  by  Filipino  ladies,  and 
Roxas  a  beautiful  but  enormous  Filipino  flag  also  made  of 
silk.  .  .  .  Manila  certainly  did  its  best  to  give  us  a  warm  send- 
off.  A  committee  under  the  chairmanship  of  Mr.  Torres  had 
been  appointed  and  a  crowd  had  already  assembled  on  the 
grounds  of  MalacaSan.  All  the  whistles  blew  at  two  o'clock 
and  again  when  the  ship  sailed  at  four.  On  our  way  to  the  pier 
the  streets  were  lined  with  people.  The  University  cadets  were 
in  one  place  and  another  corps  of  cadets  at  another  place, 
while  drawn  up  at  the  pier  was  a  guard  of  honor  consisting  of 
the  entire  battalion  of  the  3131  Infantry  of  the  American 


Army.  At  the  pier  itself,  I  should  conservatively  estimate  the 
number  of  people  assembled  at  ten  thousand.  They  not  only 
crowded  the  entrance  but  they  crowded  the  entire  length  of 
the  pier,  which  is  about  twelve  hundred  feet  long.  As  we 
walked  the  length  of  the  pier  through  the  upper  gallery,  the 
entire  way  was  lined  with  constabulary  on  each  side  keeping 
the  way  open  but  with*  the  people  grouped  on  each  side  in  rows 
two  or  three  deep.  When  we  got  on  board,  a  great  many 
friends  had  been  permitted  to  come  on  and  say  good-by  to  us 
there.  The  boat  pulled  out  at  four  o'clock,  and  as  it  pulled  out 
the  entire  pier,  both  upper  and  lower,  was  lined  the  entire 
length  with  friendly  brown  faces."  (Diary,  March  7,  1929) 


It  would  be  pleasant  if  the  story  of  Stimson's  work  in  the 
Philippines  could  be  ended  with  his  triumphant  departure 
from  the  Islands  in  1929.  It  cannot.  The  foundation  he  laid 
in  one  year  for  the  development  of  political  and  economic 
autonomy,  based  though  it  was  on  a  precedent  tradition  of 
thirty  years'  standing,  was  in  the  main  discarded  in  the  years 
that  followed.  Conditions  beyond  his  control — and  beyond 
the  control  of  anyone  in  the  Philippines,  twisted  the  Philip- 
pine policy  of  the  United  States  away  from  what  Stimson  had 
planned ;  and  the  subsequent  history  of  the  Islands  has  not  ful- 
filled the  pleasant,  peaceful,  and  progressive  prospect  that 
opened  before  both  Filipinos  and  their  American  friends  in 

The  first  blow  was  struck  by  Americans ;  the  Philippine  ex- 
periment may  be  regarded  pridefully  as  an  example  of  Amer- 
ican idealism  at  its  practical  best,  but  the  end  of  that  experi- 
ment was  caused  by  American  realism  at  its  impractical  worst 
It  was  a  small  and  selfish  group  of  American  sugar  interests 
that  first  disrupted  the  harmony  of  1929. 

Warning  of  this  attack  came  while  Stimson  was  still  in  the 
Philippines,  in  the  form  of  a  resolution,  introduced  in  Con- 
gress by  a  Representative  Timberlake,  which  would  have  re- 
stricted the  duty-free  importation  of  Philippine  sugar.  Paral- 
lel to  the  Timberlake  Resolution  were  a  number  of  requests 


from  American  trade  associations  for  tariff  restrictions  on 
other  Philippine  products.  It  thus  appeared  that  American 
interests  seeking  tariff  protection  were  determined  on  ending 
the  free  trade  between  the  Philippines  and  the  United  States; 
these  w7ere  strong  interests — they  were  of  the  same  sort  as  those 
which  one  year  later  produced  the  Hawley-Smoot  tariff. 

The  effect  in  the  Philippines  was  immediate.  Free  trade 
with  America  had  existed  for  fifteen  years ;  in  that  time  insu- 
lar agriculture,  the  only  large  source  of  export  value,  had  be- 
come entirely  dependent  on  the  American  market.  Without 
free  trade  the  foundations  of  the  Filipino  economy  would  be 
destroyed,  and  the  final  result  of  the  American  connection 
with  the  Philippines  would  be  disaster.  In  the  face  of  such  a 
danger  it  seemed  idle  to  talk  of  economic  development;  to  the 
degree  that  they  saw  the  Timberlake  Resolution  as  a  straw  in 
the  wind,  men  hesitated  to  make  new  investments.  The  mere 
suggestion  of  a  tariff  barrier  produced,  in  Stimson's  words,  a 
''withering  effect"  on  business  confidence. 

But  even  more  serious  was  the  withering  of  political  co-op- 
eration. Filipino  leaders  continued  to  treat  Stimson  with  full 
and  friendly  confidence;  they  knew  that  he  was  a  vigorous 
opponent  of  tariff  restriction.  But  Stimson  was  not  America, 
and  agitation  for  a  tariff  was  painful  evidence  that  Stimson's 
policy  might  not  for  long  be  American  policy.  The  economic 
menace  of  the  tariff  restrictions  thus  reopened  for  urgent  con- 
sideration among  Filipinos  the  vexed  issue  of  independence. 

Stimson,  as  we  have  seen,  believed  that  complete  independ- 
ence from  the  United  States  was  the  wrong  final  goal  for  the 
Philippines;  he  considered  it  impractical  and  unrealistic;  he 
believed  it  neither  useful  for  the  Filipinos  nor  advantageous 
to  the  United  States.  The  Filipinos,  in  his  view,  required 
American  support  and  protection  in  order  to  avoid  intimida- 
tion from  large  oriental  neighbors,  while  America's  political 
position  in  the  Far  East  was  greatly  strengthened  by  the  exist- 
ence in  the  Philippines  of  an  outpost  of  American  civilization. 
Independence  he  thought  a  misnomer  for  the  legitimate  and 
natural  Filipino  aspiration  toward  full  self-government. 

In  his  inaugural  address  Governor  General  Stimson,  like 
several  of  his  predecessors,  had  withdrawn  himself  completely 


from  any  participation  in  discussion  of  independence.  "It  is 
not  within  the  province  of  the  Governor  General  to  determine 
the  future  relations  of  the  inhabitants  of  these  islands  to  the 
United  States;  that  duty  rests  with  the  government  of  the 
United  States."18  By  giving  the  Filipino  public  the  more  con- 
crete and  significant  immediate  goals  of  greater  political 
autonomy  and  economic  development,  Stimson  largely  suc- 
ceeded in  quieting  the  agitation  for  independence.  Particularly 
significant  was  his  success  with  Quezon,  who  came  to  recognize 
that  Stimson's  method  of  developing  Cabinet  government 
under  the  Jones  Act  would  offer  all  the  advantages  of  inde- 
pendence, without  its  danger. 

All  this  was  changed  by  the  tariff  agitation  in  the  United 
States.  Stimson  at  first  hoped  that  the  terrible  threat  of  a  tariff 
barrier  would  dissuade  Filipino  leaders  from  their  continued 
public  support  of  "independence" ;  talking  with  Quezon  "I 
said  that  what  I  would  fear  was  that  when  the  dilemma  was 
presented  between  tariff  against  the  Philippines  on  one  side 
and  independence  on  the  other,  the  American  Congress  remem- 
bering the  long-continued  demands  for  immediate  independ- 
ence by  the  Filipinos  would  at  the  behest  of  the  American 
special  interests  give  the  Filipinos  immediate  independence 
and  disregard  the  real  harm  and  cruelty  which  this  would 
do  to  them."  (Diary,  January  6,  1929) 

Quezon's  first  reaction  was  most  surprising  and  very  satis- 
factory to  his  friend.  "He  agreed  with  me  that  this  was  the 
chief  danger  and  said,  and  this  was  the  most  keenly  significant 
thing  that  he  said,  'If  I  could  get  a  dominion  government  with 
free  trade  advantages,  I  would  do  so  at  the  price  of  giving  up 
all  agitation  for  independence  for  thirty  years  and  would  not 
hesitate  for  a  moment.  By  dominion  government  I  do  not 
mean  all  of  the  things  which  a  dominion  contains  which  are 
unfair  to  the  mother  country.  England  has  given  Canada 
many  things  which  are  highly  unfair  to  England.  I  don't  ask 
for  those,  but  if  we  could  get  the  dominion  system,  even  with- 
out those,  I  would  abandon  the  agitation  for  independence  for 
thirty  years.'  "  (Diary,  January  6,  1929) 

But  Quezon  was  not  able  to  hold  to  this  position.  The  strong 

18  Report,  Appendix  E. 


general  reaction  of  Filipino  opinion  was  directly  opposite  to 
Stimson's  argument.  Ten  days  later  Quezon  reported  that  he 
had  been  talking  with  Filipino  businessmen,  individuals  cer- 
tain to  be  damaged  by  any  tariff  law.  "The  consensus  of  their 
attitude  was  'If  we  are  going  to  be  subject  to  this  kind  of  at- 
tack on  our  free  trade,  such  as  is  now  going  on  in  the  United 
States,  we  will  be  in  constant  uncertainty  and  danger.  Even  if 
we  defeat  it  now,  no  Congress  can  bind  its  successor  and  the 
attack  will  be  renewed.  We  might  as  well  end  it  entirely  and 
build  up  a  separate  system."  (Diary,  January  16,  1929)  And 
the  following  day  Quezon  reported  on  the  feelings  of  the  poli- 
ticians; he  had  consulted  legislative  leaders  and  the  entire 
Cabinet;  'The  unanimous  opinion  expressed  wTas  that  if  they 
had  to  choose  between  free  trade  and  independence,  they 
would  take  independence."  (Diary,  January  17,  1929)  It  \vas 
wholly  clear  that  the  Filipinos  had  reacted  with  angry  pride 
to  what  they  considered  a  blow  below  the  belt.  Quezon  said 
that  "He  did  not  think  you  could  keep  the  Filipinos  from  agi- 
tation if  the  tariff  threat  were  continued.  He  said  that  if  they 
had  been  under  any  ordinary  Governor  General,  we  would 
have  been  flooded  already  with  resolutions  for  immediate  in- 
dependence from  every  municipality  and  barrio  in  the  Is- 
lands.7' With  his  usual  courage  Quezon  was  trying  for  the  time 
being  c:to  sit  on  the  agitation,"  but  it  was  a  very  hot  seat. 

In  his  first  fifteen  months  as  Secretary  of  State,  Stimson 
went  three  times  to  Capitol  Hill  to  testify  on  the  Philippines. 
Twice  he  won  his  point.  In  April,  1929,  he  made  a  strong  ap- 
peal against  the  Timberlake  Resolution.  In  October  of  the 
same  year  he  spoke  against  a  bill  which  would  have  extended 
American  coastwise  shipping  restrictions  to  Philippine  waters. 
In  both  cases  he  was  sympathetically  heard ;  in  both  cases  the 
press  supported  the  free-trade  position,  and  the  advocates  of 
restriction  were  beaten.  The  third  time  was  different.  "The 
opponents  of  Philippine  imports  being  defeated  thus  twice  in 
direct  attacks  lined  up  behind  the  independence  movement 
and  my  next  skirmish  writh  them  was  before  the  Senate  Com- 
mittee on  Insular  Affairs.  .  .  .  There  I  had  a  hopeless  fight  be- 
cause that  committee  was  already  committed  by  a  large  ma- 


jority  to  Philippine  independence/'  (Diary,  August  28,  1930) 
Stimson  repeated  to  the  committee  all  the  convictions  which 
we  have  discussed  above  but  it  was  an  unpleasant  session.  As 
the  months  passed  congressional  sentiment  for  independence 
constantly  increased,  and  Stimson  was  particularly  saddened 
by  the  way  in  which  the  advocates  of  independence  pushed  the 
Filipino  leaders  into  a  corner.  "The  selfish  interests  which 
wTant  to  get  rid  of  the  Philippines  so  as  to  get  rid  of  their  com- 
petition .  .  .  have  got  evidently  a  majority  in  both  houses  [of 
Congress]  pretty  well  pledged  for  that.  The  poor  Filipinos 
themselves  have  at  last  realized  their  danger  and  are  almost 
pathetic  in  their  desire  to  escape,  but  of  course  they  are  tied 
hand  and  foot  by  their  previous  slogans  and  they  do  not  dare 
to  change  for  fear  of  political  death  in  the  Islands/7  (Diary, 
February  10,  1932)  In  the  spring  of  1931,  Stimson  was  party 
to  a  final  effort  to  kill  the  slogan  value  of  independence  by 
substituting  a  program  of   responsible  Cabinet  government 
under  the  Jones  Act.  In  this  move  he  had  the  support  of  Que- 
zon and  the  War  Department,  and  the  devoted  and  diplomatic 
assistance  of  Frank  McCoy,  but  the  effort  failed.  Neither 
President  Hoover  nor  Governor  General  Davis  really  ap- 
proved the  idea,  and  Quezon  was  soon  driven  by  circumstances 
back  to  the  idea  of  independence.  To  Stimson  one  of  the  most 
disheartening  aspects  of  the  situation  was  the  number  of  Amer- 
icans schooled  in  the  old  tradition  who  now  threw  up  their 
hands  and  came  out  in  favor  of  early  independence.  Even 
former  Governor  General  Forbes  was  among  those  who  ad- 
vised Mr.  Hoover  to  sign  the  Hare-Hawes-Cutting  Act  of 
1933,  which  was  passed  \vith  a  \vhoop  over  his  courageous 
veto.  As  Stimson  had  often  prophesied  to  Quezon  and  Osmena, 
the  independence  movement  in  the  end  persuaded  even  the 
good  friends  of  the  Filipinos  that  American  protection  should 
be  ended. 

The  Hare-Hawes-Cutting  Act  had  the  one  redeeming  fea- 
ture that  it  was  subject  to  Filipino  approval,  and  by  the  stren- 
uous effort  of  Quezon  that  approval  was  denied.  But  protected 
by  their  "generosity1'  in  offering  independence,  the  tariff  in- 
terests were  now  too  strong  to  be  completely  beaten,  and  in 
1934  Quezon  accepted  the  Tydings-McDuffie  Act,  which  was 


only  slightly  modified  from  its  predecessor.  Under  this  act,  in 
1935,  the  Philippines  Commonwealth  Government  was  estab- 
lished, and  the  Islands  were  to  become  independent  in  1946, 
when  they  would  be  faced  with  the  full  effect  of  the  American 
tariff  wall. 

It  is  fortunate  for  the  honor  of  the  United  States  that  the 
story  does  not  end  here.  The  tariff  provisions  of  the  Tydings- 
McDuffie  Act  were  modified  a  few  years  later,  to  permit  a  pro- 
gressive imposition  of  the  deadly  barrier  over  a  period  of 
twenty  years,  in  the  hope  that  this  might  give  the  Filipinos 
time  to  develop  new  markets.  And  before  1946  arrived,  Phil- 
ippine-American relations  were  subjected  to  a  sterner  test  than 
any  in  their  previous  association. 

Already  in  1935  Filipino  leaders  were  aware  that  in  achiev- 
ing independence  they  had  achieved  too  much,  even  aside 
from  economic  questions.  In  that  year  Stimson  heard  reports 
both  from  Quezon  and  from  Governor  General  Murphy  about 
the  rising  fear  of  Japanese  penetration.  Both  Murphy  and 
Quezon  talked  in  terms  of  a  "permanent  association"  between 
the  Philippines  and  the  United  States,  and  Stimson  wholly 
agreed  when  Murphy  emphasized  that  such  a  connection  must 
be  voluntary  on  both  sides.  In  his  personal  opposition  to  inde- 
pendence he  had  always  insisted  that  no  American  could  or 
should  stop  the  Filipinos  if  their  mature  judgment  was  in 
favor  of  independence;  all  he  had  argued  was  that  the  United 
States  must  so  conduct  itself  as  to  give  that  mature  judgment 
a  full  and  fair  opportunity.  His  favorite  phrase  was  that  the 
time  for  cave-man  methods  had  ended  and  that  any  permanent 
marriage  between  the  Philippines  and  the  United  States  must 
be  based  on  mutual  consent.  As  fear  of  Japanese  expansion  in- 
creased, it  became  more  and  more  clear  that  the  Filipinos 
wanted  what  Stimson  had  always  told  them  they  wanted — not 
independence,  but  self-government  under  American  protec- 

When  war  came,  in  1941,  and  the  Filipino  people  had  to 
choose  between  Japanese  promises  and  American  reality,  the 
American  experiment  in  the  Philippines  was  triumphantly 
vindicated.  In  1941  Stimson  was  again  Secretary  of  War,  and 
his  part  in  the  epic  of  Bataan  and  Corregidor  will  be  found 


in  a  later  chapter.  After  that  campaign,  during  the  years  of 
the  Philippine  Government's  exile,  he  was  in  constant  contact 
with  his  old  friends  Quezon  and  Osmena,  and  Philippine 
problems  came  to  his  attention  as  a  sort  of  "counsel  for  the 
situation,"  although  the  War  Department  was  no  longer 
charged  with  the  responsibility  for  the  Islands.  The  war 
served  to  end  discussion  of  the  tired  issues  of  the  past.  Both 
sides  had  come  to  realize  that  there  must  be  a  continuing  con- 
nection between  the  two  nations,  and  both  knew  too  that  the 
old  days  of  paternal  Governors  General  could  not  be  brought 
back.  And  the  \var  served  a  great  purpose  in  reviving  the  in- 
terest of  the  American  people ;  as  they  watched  with  admira- 
tion the  loyal  resistance  of  the  Filipinos,  and  compared  it 
to  the  behavior  of  other  colonial  peoples,  they  realized  that 
their  agents  had  done  well,  and  the  economic  legislation 
passed  after  the  war,  while  far  from  perfect,  was  very  much 
better  than  the  original  Tydings-McDuffie  Act. 

On  July  4,  1946,  in  accordance  with  plan,  the  Philippine 
Republic  was  established.  For  Stimson  it  was  a  date  marked 
by  both  fear  and  hope.  The  fears  were  old  ones.  Could  the 
Filipinos  govern  themselves,  insuring  to  themselves  the  peace 
and  individual  liberty  which  had  been  enforced  so  long  from 
above?  Would  the  politicos  be  able  to  give  honest,  democratic 
government  to  a  nation  which  had  been  so  short  a  time  ex- 
posed to  democratic  doctrine?  Might  they  not  slide  back  down 
the  hard  road  up  which  they  had  been  led,  lacking  the  experi- 
ence and  self-discipline  for  full  self-government?  Could  they 
achieve  alone  the  economic  growth  on  which  free  government 
must  depend?  And  Stimson  had  his  fears  for  the  United  States 
also.  Would  she  firmly  maintain  her  duty  to  defend  and  protect 
the  Philippines?  Would  her  citizens  continue  to  recognize 
their  responsibility  for  Philippine  prosperity  and  force  a 
lowering  of  tariff  barriers  if  that  should  be  found  necessary? 
Would  able  Americans  respond  to  the  continuing  challenge 
of  the  Islands,  and  go  as  counselors,  expert  advisors,  and  assist- 
ants when  the  call  came  through,  as  it  would  surely  do? 

Stimson's  hopes  were  simple.  For  nearly  fifty  years,  some- 
times in  perfect  harmony,  more  often  with  natural  difficulties, 
Filipinos  and  Americans  had  lived  together.  In  this  common 


experience  he  had  shared  enough  to  know  that  with  all  its 
human  failings,  it  was  greatly  to  the  credit  of  both  peoples. 
The  establishment  of  Philippine  independence  changed  the 
setting  for  that  old  connection,  and  in  settling  old  difficulties 
it  raised  new  ones.  But  the  sovereign  remedy  was  still  the  same 
— trust  and  friendship  on  both  sides.  It  was  one  of  the  greatest 
satisfactions  of  his  life  that  he  had  been  able  to  give  and  re- 
ceive, in  peace  and  war,  such  trust  and  friendship  with  the 
Filipino  people,  and  he  hoped  that  other  Americans  might 
have  a  similar  satisfaction  in  the  future. 



Constructive  Beginnings 

I.      WASHIXGTOX  IX   1929 

IT  DID  not  seem  fitting  for  the  Governor  General  of  the 
Philippines  to  take  any  active  part  in  American  politics, 
and  during  his  year  in  Manila  Stimson  was  more  remote 
than  ever  from  the  Republican  activities  from  which  he  had 
withdrawn  in  1920.  There  were  Republicans  and  Democrats 
in  the  Philippines,  of  course,  but  their  interests  were  mainly 
insular — they  tried  to  get  promises  from  both  parties  as  to 
Philippine  affairs.  The  great  issue  of  the  1928  campaign  was 
of  little  moment  to  men  in  the  Philippines,  for  there  was  no 
prohibition  in  Manila.  Stimson  was  pleased  by  the  nomination 
of  Herbert  Hoover  in  June,  and  delighted  by  his  election  in 
November.  His  admiration  and  affection  for  Al  Smith  did 
not  extend  to  Smith's  party.  But  it  did  not  occur  to  him  that 
the  election  might  concern  him  personally,  except  in  that  Smith 
would  have  returned  him,  cordially  but  firmly,  to  private  life, 
while  Hoover  might  let  him  continue  his  experiment  in  re- 
sponsible government. 

He  was  therefore  astonished  to  learn  through  a  cable  from 
his  partner  George  Roberts,  on  January  26,  1929,  that  the 
President-elect  wished  to  know  his  feelings  about  possible  ap- 
pointment in  the  new  Cabinet,  perhaps  as  Attorney  General, 
perhaps  as  Secretary  of  State.  After  taking  counsel,  as  always, 
with  Mrs.  Stimson  he  replied  that  he  thought  "Hoover  should 
carefully  consider"  the  dangers  of  withdrawing  him  from 
Manila  at  a  time  when  tariff  agitation  had  seriously  disturbed 
public  opinion  in  the  Philippines.  He  continued,  "If  after  such 
consideration  he  should  offer  me  the  State  Department,  would 



accept.  Would  not  care  to  accept  Justice,  for  as  you  know  my 
interest  in  legal  problems  is  not  so  great  as  twenty  years  ago/' 
In  this  refusal  to  become  Attorney  General  he  persisted  in  the 
face  of  a  warning  from  Roberts  that  Mr.  Hoover  might  not 
like  so  blunt  an  answer.  "You  may  soften  my  expression  but 
my  refusal  must  be  shown  to  be  absolute.  It  would  be  wiser 
for  me  to  go  into  private  life  than  accept  Justice.  It  requires 
keen  interest  in  the  new  problems  of  a  great  Department  to 
furnish  the  driving  power  necessary  to  make  good.  I  think 
that  I  would  have  that  in  the  State  Department,  for  I  have 
been  thinking  about  similar  problems.  In  the  other  Depart- 
ment such  tastes  and  sympathies  would  be  almost  entirely  lack- 
ing. You  must  have  no  misunderstanding  with  Hoover.  He  is 
very  determined  and  almost  quarreled  with  me  in  1917  when 
he  urged  me  to  become  his  counsel  as  Food  Director,  although 
I  well  knew  that  after  my  advocacy  of  the  War,  I  must  fight 
as  combatant  or  lose  my  self-respect.  It  would  augur  ill  for 
our  future  association  if  I  began  by  not  speaking  frankly  now." 
Mr.  Hoover  did  not  resent  definite  answers,  and  on  January 
30  Stimson  received  word  that  the  President-elect  had  decided 
to  make  him  Secretary  of  State.  During  the  next  four  years 
Stimson  and  Mr.  Hoover  had  many  disagreements;  both  were 
stubborn,  and  temperamentally  they  were  quite  unlike  each 
other.  But  to  Stimson  his  association  with  Herbert  Hoover 
became  and  remained  one  of  the  most  valued  friendships  of  his 
life;  he  never  felt  any  inclination  to  retract  what  he  had  said  in 
his  first  reply:  *%I  deeply  appreciate  the  confidence  shown  by 
Hoover  and  personal  association  with  him  would  be  most 

Of  all  the  assignments  to  which  he  was  called  in  his  years  of 
public  service,  the  appointment  to  the  State  Department  was 
the  one  for  the  difficulties  of  which  Stimson  was  least  pre- 
pared. It  was  also  the  one  occasion  in  his  life  when  a  call  to 
public  service  interrupted  work  which  he  hated  to  leave. 
"This  is,  of  course,  a  terrific  revolution  in  all  my  plans.  ...  I 
cannot  but  feel  badly  at  this  interruption  of  our  far-reaching 
plans,  which  have  just  been  getting  so  nicely  under  way.  .  .  . 
Certainly  American  democracy  is  a  terribly  wasteful  instru- 
ment of  human  endeavor.  Now  I  must  go  to  Washington  and 


face  a  new  problem  of  organization  and  learn  a  new  field  of 
endeavor.  I  feel  very  ignorant  and  unqualified  for  it.7'1 

Foreign  affairs,  in  all  the  years  of  his  life  after  1929,  were 
to  be  Stimson's  greatest  single  interest.  His  work  in  the  State 
Department  was  followed  by  years  of  constantly  growing  ten- 
sion in  world  affairs  and  finally  by  a  great  war  in  which  he 
played  an  active  part.  Throughout  this  period  the  foreign  rela- 
tions of  the  United  States  became  constantly  more  important, 
until  in  1947  it  seemed  obvious  to  him  that  "Foreign  affairs 
are  now  our  most  intimate  domestic  concern."  It  is  therefore  of 
some  importance  to  note  that  when  Stimson  became  Secretary 
of  State  in  1929  he  was  not  at  all  an  expert  on  American  for- 
eign policy.  And  still  less  was  he  thoroughly  informed  of  the 
problems  and  attitudes  of  many  other  nations.  Of  continental 
Europe,  particularly,  he  knew  very  little  beyond  what  a  man 
might  know  from  casual  reading  of  the  newspapers.  Yet  most 
newspapers  commenting  on  his  appointment  seemed  to  feel 
that  he  was  well  prepared  for  his  new  assignment,  and  if  he 
had  looked  back  over  the  list  of  his  predecessors,  Stimson  could 
not  have  concluded  that  his  preparation  was  any  feebler  than 
the  average. 

And  in  some  areas,  of  course,  he  had  had  unusual  experi- 
ence. In  the  Tacna-Arica  and  Nicaraguan  affairs  he  had 
learned  something  about  Latin  America.  In  the  Philippines 
he  had  learned  much  about  the  Far  East,  and  this  knowledge 
he  had  supplemented  by  short  visits  in  China  and  Japan.  He 
knew  Great  Britain  and  France.  And  every  country  that  he 
had  visited  had  made  him  more  conscious  of  the  interest  and 
importance  of  foreign  relations.  It  was  this  rising  interest, 
especially  stimulated  by  his  year  in  the  Philippines,  that  mod- 
erated his  reluctance  to  leave  Manila  and  gave  him  the  neces- 
sary sense  of  challenge  in  the  new  assignment. 

Stimson  was  held  in  Manila  until  late  February  by  the 
special  session  of  the  Philippine  legislature.  The  voyage  home 
was  punctuated  by  brief  visits  in  Hong  Kong,  Shanghai,  and 
Tokyo.  In  all  three  places  the  new  Secretary  of  State  was  given 
a  most  friendly  welcome.  On  March  26  he  reached  Washing- 
ton, and  two  days  later  he  took  the  oath  of  office.  "My  former 

1  Letter  to  A.  T.  Klots,  January  31,  1929. 


chief ,  good  old  Chief  Justice  Taft,  was  good  enough  to  come 
down  to  the  Department  and  swear  me  in  in  the  large  outer 
room  before  a  galaxy  of  newspapermen  and  photographers 
who  dictated  how  we  should  stand,  look,  and  appear  in  a  way 
I  had  not  been  accustomed  to  in  the  Philippine  Islands." 
(Diary,  August  28,  1930)  This  was  only  the  first  of  many  dif- 
ferences between  the  State  Department  and  Malacanan  Pal- 
ace; in  the  four  years  that  followed  Stimson  was  not  once  as 
happy  as  he  had  been  in  Manila. 

Yet  in  the  spring  of  1929  the  foreign  relations  of  the  United 
States,  by  any  standard  of  later  years,  were  remarkably  placid. 
The  world  was  at  peace,  and  it  was  more  prosperous  than  at 
any  time  since  the  Great  War.  The  United  States  was  at  once 
withdrawn  from  the  painful  daily  problems  of  Europe  and 
amiably  interested  in  the  advancement  of  pacific  hopes.  This 
curious  combination  of  irresponsibility  with  idealism  had  just 
found  expression  in  the  leading  role  of  the  American  State 
Department  in  constructing  the  Pact  of  Paris,  the  Kellogg- 
Briand  Pact  for  the  renunciation  of  war.  In  this  treaty,  rati- 
fied by  the  American  Senate  in  January,  1929,  the  nations  of 
the  world  solemnly  declared  that  "they  condemn  recourse  to 
war  for  the  solution  of  international  controversies,   and  re- 
nounce it  as  an  instrument  of  national  policy  in  their  relations 
with  one  another."  The  treaty  contained  no  provision  for  en- 
forcement, and  one  of  its  authors,  Frank  B.  Kellogg,  had  spe- 
cifically stated  that  no  enforcement  was  incumbent  on  the 
signatories.  It  was  a  pact  of  self-denial,  and  its  weaknesses 
were  soon  to  become  apparent,  but  in  the  spring  of  1929  it  was 
young  and  undamaged,  and  it  fairly  represented  both  the  pro- 
foundly peaceful  attitude  of  the  Americans  and  their  gross 
ignorance  of  what  must  be  done  to  keep  the  peace  unbroken. 
A  Secretary  of  State  of  unusual  skill  and  stature,  Charles 
Evans  Hughes,  had  conducted  American  foreign  policy  with 
vigor  and  distinction  during  the  drab  Harding  years.  In  a 
series  of  treaties  signed  under  the  leadership  of  Hughes  at 
Washington  in  1921-1922,  a  settlement  had  been  reached  in 
the  Pacific  and  the  Far  East  which  seemed  to  preserve  peace 
with  honor,  and  a  bold  beginning  had  been  made  in  the  post- 
war mission  of  disarmament.  Under  Hughes  and  his  successor 


the  State  Department  had  begun  to  turn  away  from  earlier 
ill-advised  adventures  in  Latin  America.  The  American  con- 
tribution to  reconstruction  in  Europe  seemed  to  -Americans 
more  than  generous.  And  American  nonrecognition  of  the 
Russian  Bolsheviks  was  generally  approved — by  Americans. 
As  for  the  League  of  Nations,  no  responsible  political  leader 
dared  to  advocate  adherence,  but  suspicion  of  the  League  had 
begun  to  decrease,  and  in  dozens  of  nonpolitical  activities  in- 
dividual Americans,  and  even  official  observers,  were  co-oper- 
ating in  its  work.  But  in  1929  there  still  hung  over  America 
the  fog  of  isolationism  that  had  been  created  when  the  warm 
idealism  of  Wilson  crashed  against  the  cold  nationalism  of 
Brandegee  and  Lodge.  The  country  had  defied  reality  in  1920; 
nine  years  later  there  had  come  no  punishment  for  this  folly, 
and  the  people  were  thus  more  confirmed  than  ever  in  their 
determination  to  avoid  foreign  entanglements.  Narrowly  con- 
sidered, American  foreign  relations  between  1920  and  1929 
had  been  highly  successful.  The  experience  of  1917  had  lost 
its  original  glamour.  More  and  more  men  like  Stimson,  who 
persisted  in  the  conviction  that  America  had  played  a  neces- 
sary and  noble  part  in  World  War  I,  found  their  convictions 
lightly  set  aside  by  younger  men.  Outright  disillusionment 
with  Wilson's  great  crusade  was  constantly  increasing.  The 
American  people  were  perhaps  less  prepared  than  ever  before 
to  take  a  responsible  part  in  the  world's  affairs. 

But  the  peace  they  enjoyed  was  fragile — as  fragile  as  the 
great  stock  market  boom  which  Stimson  found  in  full  swing 
when  he  returned  from  Manila.  Eight  months  later  the  bubble 
of  speculative  wishes  burst,  and  within  two  years  the  whole 
flimsy  fabric  of  the  postwar  peace  began  to  come  apart.  But 
isolationism  and  false  hopes  persisted,  and  the  American  Sec- 
retary of  State  suffered  accordingly.  He  was  plunged  into  a 
desperate  world-wide  battle  for  the  highest  stakes,  and  his 
hand,  as  he  later  said,  was  'a  pair  of  deuces.' 

But  in  the  spring  of  1929  all  this  was  in  the  future.  To 
American  newspapers,  when  Stimson  took  the  oath  of  office, 
the  most  interesting  and  important  question  about  the  new 
Secretary  of  State  was  whether  he  could  settle  the  painful  issue 
of  precedence  which  had  arisen  between  Mrs.  Gann,  the  Vice 


President's  sister  and  official  hostess,  and  Mrs.  Longworth,  the 
wife  of  the  Speaker  of  the  House.  When  Stimson  solved  this 
problem  by  passing  it  on  to  the  diplomatic  corps,  he  was  ap- 
plauded as  a  Daniel  come  to  judgment.  And  in  a  way  the  solu- 
tion was  symbolic.  If  the  United  States  could  hand  its  interna- 
tional problems  to  the  League,  or  to  any  of  the  foreigners 
from  whom  they  came,  perhaps  the  problems  might  cease  to 
exist.  Meanwhile,  on  with  the  boom. 

And  it  was  only  as  he  looked  back  later  that  the  tragic  folly 
of  these  attitudes  was  wholly  clear  to  Stimson.  Of  course  he 
had  never  shared  the  prevailing  horror  of  foreign  entangle- 
ments. He  entered  office  as  a  recognized  believer  in  inter- 
national co-operation.  There  were  things  to  be  done  by  such 
men  in  1929,  and  Stimson  went  to  work  without  any  knowledge 
of  the  task  that  lay  ahead.  It  was  only  as  history  unrolled  that 
he  learned  how  his  hands  were  tied  from  the  beginning  by  the 
opinions  of  his  countrymen. 

When  Stimson  arrived  in  Washington,  he  had  three  things 
to  do  before  he  could  really  begin  to  work.  He  must  find  a 
place  to  live ;  he  must  get  himself  an  Under  Secretary  of  his 
own  choosing,  and  he  must  become  better  acquainted  with  his 
new  chief,  Mr.  Hoover.  All  three  of  these  matters  were 
quickly  settled,  and  each  of  them  in  singularly  satisfactory 

The  most  difficult  was  finding  a  house.  It  was  not  until  mid- 
summer that  the  Stimsons  decided  to  buy  an  estate  called 
Woodley.  At  the  time  it  was  an  expensive  decision,  but  as  it  was 
done  by  the  sale  of  some  wonderfully  high-priced  stocks  which 
were  radically  devaluated  by  the  market  crash  a  little  later, 
it  was  probably  a  most  profitable  investment.  But  the  financial 
advantage  was  the  least  of  the  matter.  For  most  of  the  sixteen 
years  that  followed,  Woodley  was  Stimson's  home,  and  in  all 
Washington  there  was  not  a  house  where  he  and  his  wife  could 
have  been  happier.  The  old  southern  colonial  building  was 
comfortable  and  spacious;  the  grounds  were  extensive;  the 
view  across  Rock  Creek  Valley  to  the  center  of  the  city  was 
peaceful  and  consoling  to  them  both.  It  was  as  near  as  they 
could  come  to  Highhold,  and  when  Woodley  was  given  to 


Andover,  in  1946,  the  wrench  of  parting  was  more  severe  than 
either  of  them  would  have  thought  possible  when  they  first 
moved  in. 

The  search  for  an  Under  Secretary  had  begun  even  before 
Stimson  returned  from  the  Philippines.  The  labor  of  scouting 
was  shared  by  two  old  friends,  Felix  Frankfurter  and  George 
Roberts.  Men  who  seemed  suitable  to  both  Frankfurter  and 
Roberts  were  not  numerous,  but  the  Harvard  Law  School  did 
Stimson  one  more  kindness  by  holding  a  celebration  at  which 
Frankfurter  found  himself  seated  next  to  Joseph  P.  Cotton. 
Cotton  was  an  old  friend;  it  was  he  almost  alone  who  had 
caught  the  spirit  of  the  Philippine  interlude,  writing  to  con- 
gratulate Stimson  on  his  opportunity  for  adventure.  When 
Stimson  learned  that  Cotton  would  serve  him,  he  knew  that 
he  could  find  no  better  man.  Everything  that  Cotton  did  in 
the  months  that  followed  confirmed  this  judgment,  and  his 
death  in  March,  1931,  was  the  heaviest  personal  blow  of  Stim- 
son's service  as  Secretary  of  State.  It  was  also  a  great  loss  to 
the  United  States,  for  Cotton  was  only  fifty-six  when  he  died, 
and  few  men  of  his  generation  were  more  fully  equipped  for 
distinguished  public  service. 

To  Stimson  he  was  a  godsend.  Cotton  was  able,  flexible,  un- 
derstanding, kindly,  and  witty.  He  was  idealistic  but  not  fool- 
ish, practical  but  not  cynical,  wholly  loyal,  and  completely 
frank.  In  many  of  his  qualities  he  was  a  most  valuable  comple- 
ment to  Stimson,  who  knew  that  he  sometimes  seemed  stern 
and  aloof  to  his  subordinates.  Cotton  promptly  became  Stim- 
son's alter  ego — he  was  what  the  perfect  Chief  of  Staff  is  to 
the  Army  commander — and  something  more.  While  he  lived, 
he  was  Stimson's  chief  adviser  in  every  field,  and  his  free- 
wheeling executive  in  many. 

Stimson's  first  ten  days  as  Secretary  of  State  were  spent  at 
the  White  House  as  the  President's  guest.  It  was  a  typical 
gesture  of  personal  kindness,  and  it  allowed  the  two  men  to 
become  fully  acquainted  with  each  other.  For  years  Stimson 
had  admired  Herbert  Hoover,  but  he  had  never  known  him 
well.  Now  he  was  astonished  by  the  President's  extraordinary 
grasp  of  facts.  'He  has  the  greatest  capacity  for  assimilating 
and  organizing  information  of  any  man  I  ever  knew.'  Mr. 


Hoover  was  very  fully  informed,  so  Stimson  learned  more  than 
he  taught,  confining  his  own  comments  to  an  ardent  advocacy 
of  his  Philippine  doctrine. 

There  were  two  major  foreign  issues  before  the  American 
Government  in  1929,  when  these  early  conversations  took  place. 
One  was  the  tariff,  and  to  Stimson's  great  relief  this  subject  did 
not  fall  within  the  jurisdiction  of  the  State  Department.  He 
had  seen  in  1909  what  happens  when  Republicans  revise  the 
tariff  and  he  had  shuddered  in  1928  when  he  found  that  Mr. 
Hoover  as  a  candidate  had  promised  tariff  revision.  But  it  was 
a  settled  decision  when  he  reached  Washington ;  a  special  ses- 
sion of  Congress  had  already  been  called.  He  kept  out  of  it. 

The  other  major  question  was  one  that  Stimson  promptly 
plunged  into  with  enthusiasm.  This  was  the  matter  of  naval 
disarmament  and  relations  with  Great  Britain. 

2.      LONDON  IN    1930 

The  absorbing  interest  of  Stimson's  first  sixteen  months  in 
the  State  Department  was  naval  limitation.  The  preliminary 
negotiations  lasted  seven  months ;  detailed  preparation  for  the 
Conference  occupied  three  more;  for  three  months  in  early 
1930  he  was  in  London  attending  the  prolonged  Conference  in 
which  his  principal  hopes  were  realized;  for  three  months 
after  that  his  main  objective  in  life  was  to  secure  the  ratifica- 
tion of  the  treaty  by  the  Senate.  The  London  Naval  Treaty  was 
to  him  at  the  time  a  great  forward  step,  and  of  his  part  in  it  he 
was  proud.  He  could  not  know  that  it  was  to  be  the  last  con- 
crete achievement  of  the  great  postwar  movement  to  turn 
swords  into  plowshares,  and  that  in  a  very  few  years  the 
whole  effort  of  which  it  was  a  part  would  break  down.  In 
1930  the  Naval  Treaty  seemed  a  monument  to  the  constructive 
and  co-operative  statesmanship  of  the  leaders  of  three  great 
seafaring  nations. 

The  First  World  War  left  to  the  victors  overwhelming  mili- 
tary strength  and  a  strong  disinclination  to  use  it.  It  produced 
in  all  countries,  and  with  particular  force  in  the  English- 
speaking  nations,  a  desire  to  be  rid  forever  of  the  heavy  burden 
of  preparation  for  war.  The  first  great  result  of  this  sentiment 


was  the  series  of  treaties  signed  at  Washington  in  the^winter  of 
1921-1922.  Spurred  on  by  a  magnificent  gesture  from  Secretary 
of  State  Hughes  on  behalf  of  the  United  States,  the  naval 
powers  of  the  world  succeeded  in  ending  an  incipient  race  in 
battleship  building.  Warships  of  more  than  10,000  tons  were 
rigidly  limited ;  great  building  programs  were  abandoned,  and 
much  tonnage  was  scrapped.  More  significant  still,  the  Naval 
Treaty  was  accompanied  by  a  general  political  settlement  in 
the  Pacific  Ocean  which  appeared  to  lay  the  foundation  for 
lasting  good  relations  among  the  major  Pacific  powers,  and 
particularly  between  the  United  States  and  Japan. 

In  the  years  after  1922,  though  the  Washington  treaties  re- 
tained their  force  and  favor,  it  became  evident  that  they  were 
incomplete.  Competition  had  been  ended  in  the  field  of  capital 
ships,  but  it  reappeared  in  other  categories,  and  particularly 
in  the  construction  of  heavy  cruisers  of  10,000  tons,  with  8-inch 
guns — so-called  Treaty  cruisers,  whose  specifications  were  de- 
termined more  by  the  words  of  the  Washington  settlement  than 
by  the  requirements  of  naval  strategy.  This  new  naval  rivalry 
became  the  principal  immediate  obstacle  to  broader  discus- 
sions of  land  and  air  disarmament.  And  it  assumed  particular 
bitterness  in  issues  between  Great  Britain  and  the  United 
States,  two  nations  which  on  any  rational  ground  should  have 
been  delighted  to  see  each  other  strong.  In  1927,  in  Geneva, 
irreconcilable  differences  between  the  British  and  the  Ameri- 
cans caused  a  breakdown  of  naval  discussions ;  in  these  discus- 
sions the  Japanese  honorably  participated  as  a  good  neighbor 
to  both  parties.  During  1928  and  early  1929  there  was  no  im- 
provement in  the  situation,  and  the  American  Congress  author- 
ized a  formidable  program  for  the  construction  of  Treaty 
cruisers,  aimed  at  the  achievement  of  a  nebulous  but  appar- 
ently vital  goal  called  "parity"  with  Great  Britain.  Nor  did 
the  British  Conservative  Government  find  it  desirable  to  with- 
draw from  the  very  advanced  position  it  had  maintained  in 
1927.  Under  the  pressure  of  these  events,  Anglo-American 
cordiality  was  severely  strained,  and  in  the  United  States  there 
was  a  marked  revival  of  the  anti-British  feeling  which  has  so 
often  accompanied  assertions  of  American  nationalism.  Jingoes 
in  both  nations  were  noisy. 


At  the  same  time  cooler  heads  and  preponderant  opinion 
in  both  countries  recognized  that  neither  could  gain  from  a 
naval  impasse.  Strong  public  support  awaited  leaders  who 
would  undertake  to  set  their  faces  against  jingoism  and  work 
out  an  agreement.  The  signing  of  the  Kellogg  Pact  in  1928 
and  its  ratification  by  the  United  States  in  early  1929  were 
evidence  of  a  deep-seated  yearning  for  peace  and  disarmament; 
a  naval  race  stimulated  mainly  by  considerations  of  prestige 
seemed  clearly  incompatible  with  these  desires.  In  response 
to  such  sentiments  tentative  steps  toward  new  Anglo-American 
negotiations  had  been  made  even  before  Mr.  Hoover  was 

But  it  was  the  new  President  who  gave  real  impetus  to  the 
effort  to  break  the  deadlock  of  1927.  Even  before  Stimson's 
arrival  in  Washington  Mr.  Hoover  had  begun  his  four-year 
campaign  for  effective  disarmament.  Mr.  Hoover's  driving 
energy  was  wholly  enlisted  in  the  effort  to  give  life  and  reality 
to  the  Kellogg  Pact.  The  pact  seemed  to  him  a  proper  starting 
point  for  a  new  and  bolder  attack  in  the  problem  of  armaments. 
And  as  the  first  step  in  breaking  the  log  jam  he  wished  to  end 
naval  disagreements  between  the  United  States  and  Great 

Stimson's  approach  was  somewhat  different,  but  it  had  ex- 
actly the  same  practical  result.  He  inclined  to  place  primary 
emphasis  on  the  re-establishment  of  understanding  with  Great 
Britain;  returning  from  the  Philippines  to  the  Atlantic  coast 
he  had  been  shocked  to  find  that  anti-British  sentiment  had 
greatly  increased  since  his  departure.  Being  himself  a  con- 
firmed believer  in  the  vital  importance  of  firm  Anglo-Ameri- 
can friendship,  he  at  once  determined  to  make  the  repair  of 
relations  with  Great  Britain  a  cardinal  objective  of  his  service 
as  Secretary  of  State.  The  obvious  first  step  was  to  reach  agree- 
ment on  naval  limitation.  That  such  agreement  would  also 
contribute  to  the  general  cause  of  disarmament  was  important 
to  Stimson,  and  gratifying;  but  it  was  the  restoration  of  under- 
standing with  Great  Britain  that  he  put  first. 

Although  Mr.  Hoover's  first  steps  were  taken  in  March  and 
were  promptly  followed  by  co-operative  gestures  from  Great 
Britain,  the  Americans  decided  to  await  the  results  of  a  forth- 


coming  British  election  before  beginning  detailed  negotia- 
tion. It  seemed  likely  that  the  Conservatives  might  be  defeated 
in  this  contest,  and  experience  since  the  war  had  clearly  dem- 
onstrated that  the  British  Labor  Party  was  better  able  than 
its  rival  to  make  progress  toward  international  agreements  of 
a  peaceful  sort  Meanwhile,  as  Ambassador  to  Great  Britain, 
Mr.  Hoover  appointed  Charles  G.  Dawes,  the  retiring  Vice 
President,  a  man  who  had  won  high  international  standing  for 
his  part  in  adjusting  postwar  debts  and  reparations.  When  the 
Labor  leader  Ramsay  MacDonald  became  Prime  Minister  on 
June  5,  the  stage  was  set  for  active  discussion.  Two  days  later 
Dawes  sailed  for  London,  and  during  the  three  months  that 
followed  he  was  the  active  intermediary  for  a  remarkable 
negotiation  between  London  and  Washington. 

The  detailed  record  of  this  negotiation  does  not  belong  in 
this  story.  Essentially  it  was  a  candid  and  honorable  exchange 
between  Mr.  Hoover  and  Mr.  MacDonald.  Stimson  was  de- 
lighted to  find  that  both  men  shared  his  liking  for  frankness. 
Each  was  unruffled  by  searching  questions;  both  were  pre- 
pared to  make  concessions.  Gradually  the  wide  gulf  that  had 
separated  the  two  nations  at  Geneva  was  narrowed.  The  great 
concession  was  Mr.  MacDonald's  retreat  from  the  unaccept- 
able British  requirement  of  seventy  cruisers  to  a  demand  for 
fifty.  On  the  American  side  there  was  perhaps  no  equivalent 
concession;  since  the  British  had  conceded  the  principle  of 
parity,  and  since  the  American  cruiser  fleet  was  mostly  still  on 
paper,  it  was  the  size  of  the  British  cruiser  requirement  that 
determined  the  major  lines  of  agreement.  When  this  require- 
ment was  materially  reduced  by  MacDonald,  it  was  clear  that 
a  settlement  was  in  sight.  The  remaining  differences  were 
largely  due  to  the  intransigence  of  the  American  Navy's  Gen- 
eral Board,  which  held  a  very  high  opinion  of  Washington 
Treaty  cruisers  and  wished  its  cruiser  fleet  to  contain  a  larger 
number  of  8-inch-gunned  ships  than  the  British  were  willing  to 
accept  The  British  argued,  first,  that  such  an  advantage  would 
be  more  than  parity  because  of  the  great  difference  in  fighting 
power  between  8-inch  vessels  and  the  usual  6-inch  cruiser, 
and  second,  that  a  heavy  American  preponderance  in  8-inch 
cruisers  would  stimulate  Japanese  building  in  the  same  class 


beyond  the  point  acceptable  in  the  British  Pacific  dominions. 

In  October,  1929,  when  it  was  clear  that  Anglo-American 
disagreement  had  been  so  narrowed  that  a  final  agreement 
could  easily  be  reached  in  conference,  Ramsay  MacDonald 
visited  the  United  States.  It  was  the  first  visit  of  a.  British 
Prime  Minister  to  America,  and  it  was  a  personal  triumph 
not  equaled  by  a  foreign  statesman  until  the  arrival  of  Winston 
Churchill  twelve  years  later  on  a  very  different  mission.  Mac- 
Donald's  gentle  sincerity,  and  his  instinctive  eloquence  and 
charm,  made  him  the  ideal  ambassador  of  a  reconstructed 
friendship.  His  visit  to  Mr.  Hoover  at  the  President's  Rapidan 
camp  marked  a  high  point  in  the  public  popularity  of  both 
men.  Stimson  found  himself  strongly  drawn  to  this  Scotsman, 
so  friendly  and  understanding,  so  patently  one  who  loved  peace 
and  good  will  to  all  men,  and  his  friendship  with  MacDonald 
grew  stronger  with  every  later  meeting.  Not  a  year  passed  in 
the  seven  before  MacDonald's  death  that  the  two  men  did  not 
meet,  at  first  mainly  on  business,  and,  after  Stimson  left  office, 
as  old  friends  and  joint  lovers  of  the  Scottish  moors. 

As  disagreement  between  Great  Britain  and  the  United 
States  had  been  the  main  obstacle  to  any  extension  of  the  Wash- 
ington Treaty,  the  ending  of  that  disagreement  opened  the 
way  for  a  general  conference  of  the  major  naval  powers; 
accordingly  in  the  autumn  of  1929  the  British  issued  invita- 
tions to  France,  Italy,  Japan,  and  the  United  States  for  a  five- 
power  meeting  to  be  held  in  London  the  following  January. 
Stimson  was  to  be  the  head  of  the  American  delegation,  and 
he  and  Mr.  Hoover  gave  much  time  and  thought  to  the  ap- 
pointment of  its  other  members. 

The  result  was  a  delegation  which  in  weight  and  balance 
always  seemed  to  Stimson  as  strong  as  any  sent  by  the  United 
States  to  an  international  conference  in  his  lifetime;  it  con- 
tained two  Cabinet  officers,  two  Senators,  and  three  Ambassa- 
dors. With  Stimson  from  the  Cabinet  'came  Secretary  Adams 
of  the  Navy  Department,  a  man  who  combined  loyalty  to  his 
Department  with  a  keen  sense  of  the  proper  relation  of  naval 
interests  to  national  policy.  The  two  Senators  were  David 
Reed,  Republican  of  Pennsylvania,  and  Joseph  T.  Robinson, 
Democrat  of  Arkansas.  Reed  was  a  resolute  and  skillful 


negotiator  and  an  experienced  student  of  naval  affairs.  Robin- 
son was  the  Senate  minority  leader,  but  no  narrow  partisan ; 
his  hearty  co-operation  in  London  and  his  sturdy  support  of 
the  final  treaty  were  indispensable  factors  in  its  eventual  ratifi- 
cation. The  three  Ambassadors  were  Dawes,  whose  personal 
diplomacy  had  already  played  a  major  role  in  naval  discus- 
sions, Hugh  Gibson,  Ambassador  to  Belgium,  perhaps 
America's  outstanding  expert  in  the  technicalities  of  disarma- 
ment, and  Dwight  Morrow,  Ambassador  to  Mexico,  a  man 
with  a  well-earned  reputation  for  diplomacy  and  insight  It 
was  a  strong  list,  well  supported  by  technical  experts  and 
advisers.  One  of  the  most  rewarding  experiences  of  Stimson's 
life  was  the  privilege  of  leading  such  a  group  of  men.  From 
all  of  them  he  received  complete  co-operation  and  support; 
each  of  them  employed  his  special  talents  wherever  the  dele- 
gation chairman  asked  for  it,  and  from  all  came  valuable  sug- 
gestions as  to  American  policy.  Every  important  decision  taken 
at  the  Conference  by  the  American  delegation  was  unanimous. 

The  London  Naval  Conference  was  opened  by  King 
George  V  on  January  17,  1930,  and  adjourned  the  following 
April  22.  It  was  three  times  delayed  by  outside  events,  one  of 
them  a  Japanese  general  election,  the  other  two,  Cabinet  crises 
in  France.  From  the  point  of  view  of  the  American  delegates, 
its  work  fell  into  three  phases:  the  completion  of  agreement 
with  Great  Britain,  the  negotiation  of  a  settlement  with  Japan, 
and  the  unsuccessful  effort  to  bring  France  and  Italy  into  an 
agreement  on  vessels  of  10,000  tons  and  less. 

Agreement  with  Great  Britain  was  easy.  As  soon  as  the 
American  delegation  was  able  to  make  a  detailed  study  of  the 
issues  which  had  separated  the  American  Navy's  General 
Board  from  the  last  British  proposals  of  the  Hoover-Mac- 
Donald  conversations,  it  came  to  a  unanimous  agreement  that 
insistence  on  the  General  Board's  position  would  wreck  the 
Conference  for  a  purely  hypothetical  advantage,  and  it  reduced 
the  American  requirement  in  8-inch  cruisers  from  twenty-one 
to  eighteen,  asking  in  return  a  balancing  increase  in  the 
American  quota  of  6-inch  ships.  From  the  moment  of  this 
decision,  which  was  reached  on  February  4  and  promptly 
endorsed  by  Mr.  Hoover,  there  remained  only  trivial  differ- 


ences  between  the  British  and  the  Americans,  and  these  were 
easily  adjusted  in  later  meetings. 

This  shift  in  the  American  cruiser  balance  from  8-inch  to 
6-inch  ships  was  the  concession  most  violently  attacked  by  big- 
navy  men  when  the  treaty  came  before  the  Senate  for  ratifica- 
tion. It  would  be  hard  to  say  whether  these  American  ad- 
vocates of  8-inch  strength  or  the  British  who  had  opposed  a 
twenty-one-ship  American  fleet  of  8-inch  vessels  were  the  more 
eloquent  in  describing  the  superiority  of  the  heavier  guns  to 
any  vessels  with  smaller  weapons.  In  Stimson's  view  this  elo- 
quence later  assumed  a  comical  aspect,  for  the  Washington 
Treaty  8-inch  ships  did  not  turn  out  to  be  an  outstanding  suc- 
cess, in  peace  or  war,  while  the  so-called  London  cruisers, 
6-inch  ships  of  10,000  tons,  proved  to  be  among  the  most  valu- 
able and  effective  vessels  in  the  American  Navy.  And  this  was 
only  the  most  conspicuous  example  of  the  errors  of  technical 
judgment  which  lay  behind  many  of  the  positions  ardently 
presented  as  matters  of  national  necessity  by  the  various  delega- 
tions. It  was  fortunate  for  the  United  States  Navy  that  its  chief 
representative  in  London,  Admiral  William  V.  Pratt,  took 
a  different  position  on  cruisers  from  most  of  his  colleagues. 
Pratt  had  been  carefully  selected  for  this  mission  by  the  ad- 
ministration's civilian  leaders,  and  Stimson  found  that  he 
thoroughly  justified  their  confidence  in  his  judgment  and 

Agreement  with  the  Japanese  was  reached  only  after  pro- 
longed and  complex  negotiations  conducted  for  the  Americans 
mainly  by  Senator  Reed.  The  essential  difficulty  was  one  of 
Japanese  pride,  which  had  been  seriously  offended  by  the 
Washington  ratio  of  ten-ten-six  in  battleship  strength.  The 
Japanese  now  wished  their  proportion  to  be  seven  against  the 
ten  of  the  United  States  and  Great  Britain,  and  they  particu- 
larly wished  to  achieve  this  ratio  in  8-inch  cruisers.  This  the 
Americans  could  not  accept  without  arousing  a  storm  of  anti- 
Japanese  resentment  at  home,  and  the  British  were  perhaps 
even  more  categorical,  maintaining  that  any  increase  in  Jap- 
anese heavy  cruisers  would  force  additional  British  building 
in  that  category  and  so  destroy  the  Anglo-American  agree- 
ment. The  Japanese  never  surrendered  the  principle  for  which 


they  were  contending,  but  they  finally  accepted  a  compromise 
skillfully  designed  by  Senator  Reed.  The  Japanese  fleet  was 
limited  to  a  strength  of  six  to  ten  in  heavy  cruisers,  but  the 
Americans  agreed  not  to  complete  their  heavy-cruiser  pro- 
gram until  after  1936,  at  which  time  the  expiration  of  the 
treaty  would  permit  a  reopening  of  the  question.  The  Japanese 
achieved  their  ratio  of  seven  in  other  categories,  and  in  sub- 
marines they  were  granted  parity.  To  Stimson  the  outstand- 
ing feature  of  the  Japanese  negotiations  was  the  frankness  and 
friendliness  with  which  the  Japanese  delegates  advanced  their 
position.  From  the  first  preliminary  conversations  in  Wash- 
ington until  the  treaty  was  ratified,  Japanese  political  leaders 
were  continuously  fair  and  conciliatory;  they  were  faced  by 
a  noisy  big-navy  opposition  at  home,  but  they  spoke  of  it  and 
dealt  with  it  in  the  same  manner  as  British  and  American 
leaders.  Only  the  heavy-cruiser  question  might  have  led  to 
disagreement,  and  in  the  face  of  a  firm  Anglo-American  front 
the  Japanese  in  the  end  had  to  choose  between  abandoning 
their  demands  and  accepting  the  responsibility  for  failure  to 
reach  agreement.  The  Minseito  Cabinet  preferred  interna- 
tional good  will  to  national  pride.  Japan  sacrificed  less  in  the 
London  Treaty  than  either  of  her  English-speaking  rivals, 
and  she  gained  greatly  in  good  will  among  the  Western 

The  third  problem — and  one  to  which  no  solution  was 
found — was  to  bring  France  and  Italy  into  the  treaty.  This 
was  a  question  which  only  indirectly  affected  the  Americans; 
the  size  of  the  French  and  Italian  navies  was  not  in  itself  a 
matter  of  concern  to  the  United  States ;  these  were  European 
fleets,  almost  entirely,  and  there  was  no  American  demand 
for  supremacy,  or  even  parity,  in  European  waters.  It  was 
only  as  the  French  and  Italians,  building  against  each  other, 
might  arouse  the  British  to  expand  their  requirements  that 
Americans  would  be  affected.  Nor  was  there  anything  im- 
portant that  the  American  delegation  could  do  to  bring  the 
French  and  the  Italians  together.  Behind  their  naval  rivalry 
lay  a  series  of  important  political  differences  in  the  Mediter- 
ranean area.  At  London  the  French  would  not  abandon  their 
insistence  on  a  cruiser  fleet  strongly  superior  to  the  Italians', 


and  the  latter  never  budged  from  their  claim  to  parity  with 
France.  Even  when  MacDonald  and  the  British  offered  po- 
litical guarantees  of  the  Mediterranean  status  quo  which, 
while  not  very  strong,  probably  overstepped  the  majority  opin- 
ion of  the  British  Parliament,  the  French  were  not  appeased. 
Stimson,  constantly  offering  his  services  as  honest  broker  to 
both  sides,  could  not  remember  when  he  had  seen  three  grim- 
mer and  less  compromising  faces  than  those  of  the  French 
leaders  as  they  insisted  on  their  full  naval  program.  And  one  of 
these  grim  faces  was  that  of  the  great  apostle  of  peace  and 
international  friendship,  Aristide  Briand.  No  Frenchman 
could  give  parity  to  Italy  and  survive  in  political  life. 

It  was  during  the  prolonged  attempt  to  break  the  Franco- 
Italian  deadlock  that  Stimson  had  his  first  painful  experience 
with  those  Americans  who,  as  he  later  put  it,  were  convinced 
"that  the  world  would  overnight  become  good  and  clean  and 
peaceful  everywhere  if  only  America  would  lead  the  way." 
Believing  that  the  French  would  give  up  their  extreme  de- 
mands if  the  British  and  the  Americans  would  join  in  a  "con- 
sultative pact"  against  aggression,  a  number  of  Americans, 
newspapermen  and  private  citizens,  kept  urging  "leadership" 
on  the  American  delegation  and  on  Mr.  Hoover,  quite  ob- 
livious of  the  fact  that  no  consultative  pact  which  could  be 
ratified  in  the  American  Senate  would  contain  anything  of 
the  remotest  value  to  France.  Stimson  was  more  than  willing 
to  join  in  any  consultative  agreement  that  was  acceptable  to 
the  Senate,  and  as  a  private  citizen  he  fully  shared  the  view 
that  it  was  foolish  for  America  to  be  frightened  by  all  "en- 
tanglements" in  Europe,  but  his  main  business  was  to  bring 
home  a  treaty  which  could  be  ratified.  If  there  were  to  be 
political  guarantees  in  a  settlement,  they  would  have  to  come 
from  Great  Britain,  and  Stimson  did  what  he  could  to  per- 
suade the  British  leaders  that  they  would  do  well  to  accept 
the  advice  of  their  own  Foreign  Office  in  favor  of  such  guar- 
antees. But  no  American  leader  could  promise  any  "consulta- 
tive pact"  except  one  wholly  divorced  from  any  responsibility 
for  action,  and  Briand  himself  told  Stimson  that  so  weak  an 
offer  would  have  no  effect  whatever  on  French  naval  demands. 

All  that  the  United  States  could  do  was  to  make  its  friendly 


interest  in  a  solution  perfectly  evident,  and  this  Stimson  did. 
He  made  it  clear  in  a  press  statement  on  March  24  that  the 
United  States  would  be  happy  to  see  French  demands  for 
security  settled  by  the  British  and  that  a  pact  involving  only 
consultative  obligations  might  then  be  acceptable  to  Ameri- 
cans. Further  than  that  he  could  not  go,  and  indeed  messages 
from  home  made  it  appear  that  even  in  going  so  far  the  Ameri- 
can delegation  had  outrun  much  senatorial  opinion.  The 
American  demarche,  combined  with  a  last  effort  by  Mac- 
Donald,  succeeded  in  changing  the  atmosphere  of  the  Con- 
ference, and  it  ended  with  a  far  better  feeling  among  the 
French  and  Italians  than  had  seemed  likely  in  early  March. 
But  no  agreement  was  reached,  and  in  its  provisions  for  the 
limitation  of  vessels  under  10,000  tons  the  London  Naval 
Treaty  remained  a  three-power  settlement.  For  two  years 
afterward  the  French  and  Italians  continued  to  negotiate  for  a 
settlement;  in  these  negotiations  the  American  State  Depart- 
ment, and  still  more  the  British  Foreign  Office,  took  an  active 
and  friendly  interest.  But  no  agreement  was  reached;  the 
French  continued  to  insist  on  superiority,  and  the  Italians 
clung  to  parity. 

The  Franco-Italian  disagreement  in  London  was  Stimson's 
introduction  to  the  complexities  of  postwar  Europe.  He  had 
of  course  known  that  the  French  were  wholly  determined  to 
protect  the  status  quo  of  the  peace  treaties,  and  that  the  Italians 
were  deeply  dissatisfied  with  the  results  of  Versailles.  But  he 
had  not  previously  understood  the  full  meaning  of  this  cleav- 
age, and  the  degree  to  which  it  dominated  the  international 
relations  of  the  two  countries.  In  London,  and  indeed  through- 
out his  term  as  Secretary  of  State,  it  was  French  intransigence 
that  he  found  particularly  annoying;  but  he  was  never  able 
to  forget  the  great  part  France  had  played  in  1914-1918,  and 
his  friendship  for  the  French  people,  and  most  of  their  leaders, 
never  wavered.  Reconciliation  between  France  and  Italy, 
however,  remained  a  problem  in  statesmanship  for  the  leaders 
of  these  two  countries,  not  for  an  American,  and  it  was  the 
common  tragedy  of  the  two  nations  that  in  this  task  their 
leaders  failed — and  though  the  French  were  more  at  fault 


in  the  beginning,  it  seemed  obvious  to  Stimson  that  the  later 
and  decisive  guilt  belonged  to  the  Fascist  dictator  Mussolini. 

In  its  clauses  limiting  the  tonnage  of  cruisers,  destroyers, 
and  submarines,  the  London  Treaty  was  signed  by  only  three 
powers,  but  in  other  important  respects  it  was  a  five-power 
settlement.  It  provided  for  the  immediate  scrapping  of  nine 
battleships  already  earmarked  for  eventual  destruction  by  the 
Washington  Treaty.  It  declared  a  holiday  in  battleship  build- 
ing until  1936,  thus  saving  the  expense  of  new  construction 
authorized  in  the  Washington  Treaty.  Most  important  of  all, 
from  Stimson's  standpoint,  it  provided  for  rules  prohibiting 
unrestricted  submarine  warfare;  this  clause,  which  was  the 
only  one  in  the  treaty  without  a  time  limit,  was  ratified  by  all 
five  nations  and  later  adhered  to  by  every  significant  naval 
power  in  the  world.  It  marked  the  acceptance  by  the  nations 
of  a  rule  of  international  law  for  which  Elihu  Root  had  vainly 
contended  in  1922,  and  to  Stimson  at  the  time  it  seemed  an 
achievement  which  in  itself  justified  the  Conference.  It  out- 
lawed the  form  of  war  which  had  been  directly  responsible 
for  American  participation  in  the  Great  War.  Nothing  that 
happened  in  World  War  II  was  more  saddening  to  Stimson 
than  the  promptness  with  which  all  belligerents  prided  them- 
selves on  submarine  campaigns  which  flagrantly  violated  this 
treaty.  But  the  future  was  hidden  in  1930,  and  no  section  of 
the  treaty  was  more  generally  approved  than  its  restriction  of 
submarine  warfare. 

It  was  as  a  team  that  the  Americans  had  labored  in  London, 
and  on  their  return  to  Washington  they  went  to  work  as  a 
team  to  secure  Senate  ratification  of  their  treaty.  Mr.  Hoover 
was  once  more  the  leader;  he  insisted  on  prompt  action,  and 
when  the  Senate  adjourned  in  early  July  without  a  vote,  he 
convened  a  special  session.  Stimson  played  his  part  in  public 
speeches,  statements  on  Capitol  Hill,  and  verbal  exchanges 
with  Senator  Hiram  Johnson.  Perhaps  most  important  of  all, 
Senators  Reed  and  Robinson  were  firm  in  their  insistence  that 
Uncle  Sam  had  not  been  cheated  by  the  foreigners.  The  op- 
position was  noisy  but  hopelessly  outnumbered ;  only  the  most 
embittered  isolationists  and  the  most  violent  big-navy  men  were 
against  ratification.  On  July  21,  after  the  threat  of  all-night 


sessions  in  the  midsummer  heat  had  wilted  the  opposition,  the 
treaty  was  ratified  by  a  vote  of  fifty-eight  to  nine.  It  was  a 
great  triumph  for  Mr.  Hoover,  and  a  great  personal  satisfac- 
tion to  Stimson. 

The  London  Naval  Treaty  had  begun  to  die  even  before  it 
expired  in  December,  1936.  By  the  middle  of  that  year  Euro- 
pean rivalry  had  so  developed  that  the  British  invoked  the 
"escalator  clause"  of  the  treaty  in  order  to  avoid  scrapping 
vessels  previously  earmarked  for  destruction;  the  British  ex- 
ample permitted  the  Americans  and  the  Japanese  to  follow 
suit.  And  long  before  1936  the  Japanese  had  served  notice  that 
after  that  date  they  would  no  longer  accept  naval  inferiority 
to  any  nation ;  their  insistence  on  parity,  wholly  unacceptable 
to  Great  Britain  and  the  United  States,  effectively  ended  the 
era  of  general  naval  limitation. 

The  London  Treaty  thus  had  a  short  and  far  from  placid 
life.  But  Stimson  did  not  for  a  moment  believe  that  for  that 
reason  it  was  a  failure.  In  itself  the  treaty  was  an  important 
step  toward  disarmament  and  lasting  peace.  In  its  political 
effects  it  was  wholly  beneficial,  serving  to  end  a  significant 
rift  between  Great  Britain  and  America,  while  at  the  same 
time  it  improved  the  political  relations  between  the  United 
States  and  Japan.  It  was  not  the  London  Treaty  that  was  a 
failure.  The  failure  was  that  of  the  leaders  in  Japan  and  on 
the  continent  of  Europe  who  so  quickly  turned  away  from  the 
peaceful  path  on  which  the  treaty  was  a  milestone. 

Nor  can  it  be  argued  that  the  treaty  served  as  a  boomerang 
against  the  United  States  by  unwisely  limiting  her  naval 
strength.  It  was  not  the  treaty,  but  Congress  and  the  President, 
supported  by  the  public,  that  prevented  the  construction  of 
fighting  ships  in  the  years  that  followed.  Long  before  he  left 
office  in  1933  Stimson  had  become  an  advocate  of  increased 
naval  construction ;  there  was  plenty  of  room  for  it  under  the 
London  Treaty.  But  a  different  course  was  taken,  and  even 
under  Franklin  Roosevelt,  who  firmly  believed  in  a  stronger 
Navy,  construction  was  so  slow  that  when  the  London  Treaty 
expired,  in  1936,  existing  American  plans  for  naval  construc- 
tion aimed  to  achieve  treaty  strength  only  in  1942. 

There  was  folly  in  the  attitudes  which  forced  the  London 


Treaty  to  take  the  shape  it  did,  but  Stimson  could  not  feel, 
looking  back,  that  this  was  the  fault  of  the  American  negotia- 
tors. The  American  delegation  was  sent  to  London  to  get 
parity.  A  more  ridiculous  goal  can  hardly  be  imagined.  On 
every  ground,  the  United  States  should  have  been  happy  to  see 
the  British  Navy  just  as  big  and  strong  as  the  British  pocket- 
book  would  permit — excepting  of  course  as  this  size  might 
stimulate  rival  building.  That  America  should  have  no  other 
important  object  than  a  fleet  as  big  as  the  British  was  utter 
nonsense.  But  there  it  was,  and  Stimson  did  his  best  to  deal 
with  it.  No  treaty  without  parity  would  have  received  ten 
votes  in  the  American  Senate,  so  the  American  delegation 
brought  back  parity.  What  good  it  did  his  country,  Stimson 
was  never  able  to  say. 

There  remained  the  solid  fact  of  complete  naval  limitation, 
binding  on  three  powers  whose  uncontrolled  rivalry  had  only 
a  year  before  threatened  serious  political  results.  This  was 
the  real  gain  at  London,  more  important  by  far  than  the 
amount  of  reduction  in  naval  armament  which  was  achieved. 
This  reduction  was  by  no  means  insignificant,  but  it  was  not 
nearly  so  great  as  Mr.  Hoover  had  originally  hoped  it  might 
be.  Among  all  the  principal  participants  on  the  American  side 
it  was  perhaps  Stimson  who  was  happiest  about  the  treaty. 
He  had  seen  it  throughout  as  a  method  of  bringing  the  British 
and  the  Americans  together,  ending  mutual  irritation  and 
beginning  a  closer  co-operation  in  all  things.  This  objective 
had  been  attained.  Anglo-American  relations  reached  a  level 
of  cordiality  in  the  year  after  the  London  Conference  that 
was  not  equaled  again  until  1940. 

3.      LATIN  AMERICA   IN    1931 

When  Stimson  returned  in  September,  1930,  from  a  vacation 
after  the  approval  of  the  naval  treaty,  he  was  greeted  at  once 
by  a  problem  which  occupied  a  great  part  of  his  attention  dur- 
ing the  six  months  that  followed — the  problem  of  Latin  Amer- 
ican policy.  "Cotton  was  waiting  for  me  with  the  question  of 
the  recognition  of  the  new  revolutionary  juntas  in  Argentina, 
Peru,  and  Bolivia."  (Diary,  September  15,  1930)  The  Latin 


American  countries,  most  of  them  heavily  dependent  on  the 
export  of  one  or  two  major  raw  materials,  were  the  first  to  be 
heavily  stricken  by  the  spreading  world  depression;  during 
1930  and  1931  there  were  ten  successful  revolutions  among 
the  twenty  republics  of  Latin  America.  This  instability,  com- 
bined with  a  rising  tide  of  boundary  disputes  and  the  steady 
pursuit  of  certain  positive  American  objectives  in  Latin  Amer- 
ica, gave  to  that  area  a  continuing  importance  throughout 
Stimson's  term  as  Secretary  of  State.  After  the  spring  of  1931 
still  more  urgent  questions  in  other  parts  of  the  world  absorbed 
the  bulk  of  his  time,  however,  and  it  will  be  convenient  to 
treat  all  of  his  Latin  American  activities  in  this  section. 

The  Latin  American  policy  of  the  United  States  in  1929 
was  in  essence  what  it  had  always  been.  It  comprised  three 
principles.  The  first  and  greatest  of  these  was  the  Monroe 
Doctrine,  which  asserted  that  the  United  States  could  not 
permit  any  non-American  power  to  make  any  of  the  inde- 
pendent nations  of  the  Americas  "subject  for  future  coloniza- 
tion." The  Monroe  Doctrine  did  not  oppose  the  existing 
colonial  holdings  of  European  powers,  but  it  placed  the  United 
States  in  lasting  opposition  to  any  expansion  by  any  European 
nation  in  the  Americas,  even  by  the  expedient  of  acquiring 
the  colonies  of  another  European  nation.  Effective  at  first 
largely  by  virtue  of  the  co-operation  of  Great  Britain,  the 
Monroe  Doctrine  when  Stimson  took  office  in  1929  had  been 
American  policy  for  over  a  century,  and  for  more  than  twenty 
years  it  had  been  completely  unchallenged.  It  was  an  axiom 
of  American  policy,  and  it  was  so  accepted  by  the  Eastern 
Hemisphere.  And  the  United  States  in  the  twentieth  century 
was  quite  able  to  sustain  it  alone. 

The  second  great  principle  of  American  policy  in  Latin 
America  was  at  once  more  regional  and  more  intense.  This 
was  that  in  the  Caribbean  Sea  and  in  Central  America  the 
United  States  was  bound  to  especial  vigilance  by  the  require- 
ments of  her  national  defense.  The  Panama  Canal,  and  the 
Atlantic  islands  which  covered  the  Canal  and  the  Gulf  of 
Mexico,  were  vital  links  in  the  strategic  security  of  the  United 
States.  Thus  the  general  sensitivity  of  the  United  States  toward 
European  activities  in  Latin  America  has  always  been  espe- 


cially  acute  in  the  case  of  Central  American  and  Caribbean 
republics.  At  the  same  time  these  were  in  general  the  countries 
least  able  to  maintain  internal  order  and  safeguard  the  legiti- 
mate rights  and  interests  of  foreign  nationals  in  their  territory. 
When  Stimson  became  Secretary  of  State,  the  American 
Government  was  directly  involved  in  the  internal  affairs  of  no 
less  than  three  of  these  countries,  while  in  two  more  she  had 
certain  contractual  rights  of  intervention.  All  of  these  com- 
plications were  the  direct  result  of  America's  strategic  con- 
cern for  the  security  of  her  continental  defense;  she  had  in- 
tervened because  of  her  overriding  national  interest  and  her 
abnormal  sensitivity  to  the  possibility  of  intervention  by  other 
nations  acting  to  safeguard  their  rights  under  the  sanction  of 
international  law. 

But  this  intervention  was  to  some  degree  in  conflict  with 
the  third  great  principle  of  American  policy  toward  Latin 
America,  which  was  to  respect  the  independence  and  integrity 
of  all  the  nations  of  the  American  continent.  This  principle 
had  been  violated  in  the  war  of  1848;  it  had  been  violated 
again,  perhaps  (on  this  point  Stimson  was  never  convinced), 
when  Theodore  Roosevelt,  in  his  eagerness  to  get  on  with  the 
building  of  the  Panama  Canal,  "took  the  Isthmus"  from 
Colombia.  It  nevertheless  remained  general  American  policy 
to  avoid  any  infringement  of  the  sovereignty  of  Latin  Ameri- 
can nations.  As  Stimson  put  it  in  a  speech  outlining  his  own 
attitude  toward  Latin  American  affairs,  "it  is  a  very  conserva- 
tive statement  to  say  that  the  general  foreign  policy  of  the 
United  States  during  the  past  century  toward  the  republics 
of  Latin  America  has  been  characterized  by  a  regard  for  their 
rights  as  independent  nations  which,  when  compared  with 
current  international  morality  in  the  other  hemisphere,  has 
been  as  unusual  as  it  has  been  praiseworthy."2 

It  was  the  constant  endeavor  of  the  American  State  Depart- 
ment, while  Stimson  was  its  Secretary,  to  bring  American 
policy  into  the  strictest  conformity  with  this  third  great  prin- 
ciple, and  to  do  it  in  such  a  way  as  to  satisfy  not  only  Ameri- 
cans, but  Latin  Americans  as  well,  of  the  good  intentions  of 

2  Address  to  Council  of  Foreign  Relations,   February   6,   1931,   printed   in   Foreign 
Affairs,  April  1931,  and  hereafter  in  this  chapter  called  "Council   Speech." 


the  Northern  Colossus.  In  this  purpose  the  State  Department 
was  merely  developing  a  line  of  policy  pursued  with  particular 
energy  by  two  earlier  Secretaries,  Root  and  Hughes.  On  their 
foundations  Stimson  was  able  to  build,  and  in  Latin  America 
as  in  naval  limitation  he  had  the  hearty  support  of  President 
Hoover.  As  President-elect,  Mr.  Hoover  had  made  a  highly 
successful  tour  of  Latin  America,  constantly  asserting  his  con- 
viction that  "we  wish  for  the  maintenance  of  their  inde- 
pendence, the  growth  of  their  stability,  and  their  prosperity." 
Stimson  was  further  supported  by  a  distinguished  staff  of 
diplomatic  assistants.  The  chiefs  of  mission  in  Latin  America 
were  mainly  career  officers,  partly  because  Mr.  Hoover  was 
anxious  to  strengthen  the  diplomatic  service  and  partly  be- 
cause the  men  who  had  earned  political  rewards  were  not 
ordinarily  eager  to  serve  in  Latin  America.  The  Assistant 
Secretary  in  charge  of  Latin  America,  Francis  White,  was  an 
experienced  and  skillful  professional  diplomat;  he  had  a  thor- 
ough knowledge  of  Latin  America  and  a  sound  sense  of 
policy.  White  was  appointed  before  Stimson  took  office,  and 
he  remained  through  the  whole  four  years  of  the  Hoover 

The  question  of  recognition  raised  by  Cotton  on  September 
15  was  one  which  recurred  repeatedly  in  following  months 
as  Latin  American  peoples  exercised  their  predilection  for 
revolution  as  a  means  of  registering  discontent.  Throughout 
this  period  Stimson  and  Mr.  Hoover  steadily  adhered  to  a 
policy  of  quickly  recognizing  each  revolutionary  government 
just  as  soon  as  it  had  demonstrated  its  de  facto  control  of  the 
country  and  had  announced  its  readiness  to  fulfill  its  inter- 
national obligations.  This  had  been  the  traditional  policy  of 
the  United  States,  except  during  the  Wilson  administration, 
and  in  Stimson's  view  Wilson's  well-intentioned  experiment 
had  been  far  from  successful.  "The  American  policy  in  re- 
gard to  these  matters  had  been  undeviating  until  Woodrow 
Wilson  came  in  and  it  was  interesting  to  get  a  new  view  of 
the  dangers  which  have  come  from  his  curious  character — a 
blend  of  high  idealism  with  absolute  inability  to  foresee  the 
reaction  which  his  views  and  efforts  would  produce  on  other 
people.  Whereas  all  the  rest  of  the  world  had  heretofore 


been  satisfied  to  decide  questions  of  recognition  upon  the  out- 
ward facts  of  our  relations  with  other  nations,  Wilson  must 
needs  try  to  delve  into  their  internal  policies  and  to  seek  to 
reform  them  according  to  his  own  views  and  his  own  forecast 
of  world  movements.  The  result  when  he  tried  it  on  Mexico 
in  1914  was  simply  to  set  everything  at  sixes  and  sevens.  In- 
stead of  promoting  feelings  of  friendship  with  Mexico  he 
initiated  feelings  of  hate  and  hostility  towards  this  country 
which  have  lasted  until  Morrow's  ambassadorship."  (Diary, 
September  15,  1930) 

Stimson  believed  that  the  true  line  of  policy  was  one  an- 
nounced by  an  earlier  Democrat.  "Said  Mr.  Jefferson  in  1792  : 
'We  certainly  cannot  deny  to  other  nations  that  principle 
whereon  our  own  Government  is  founded,  that  every  nation 
has  a  right  to  govern  itself  internally  under  what  forms  it 
pleases,  and  to  change  these  forms  at  its  own  will;  and  ex- 
ternally to  transact  business  with  other  nations  through  what- 
ever organ  it  chooses,  whether  that  be  a  king,  convention, 
assembly,  committee,  president,  or  whatever  it  be.'3  What- 
ever theoretical  advantages  there  might  be  in  the  Wilson 
policy,  it  was  certain  to  be  ineffective  in  practice.  Free 
constitutional  institutions  could  not  be  imposed  on  a  sovereign 
nation  by  the  diplomatic  device  of  nonrecognition.  Nonrecog- 
nition  could  only  be  regarded  as  a  form  of  intervention,  and 
because  of  the  size  and  power  of  the  United  States,  and  the 
degree  to  which  its  lead  was  followed  by  European  countries, 
such  intervention  was  of  more  than  theoretical  importance  in 
Latin  America.  Stimson  set  his  face  against  the  Wilson  theory. 
"The  present  administration  has  declined  to  follow  the  policy 
of  Mr.  Wilson  and  has  followed  consistently  the  former  prac- 
tice of  this  Government  since  the  days  of  Jefferson.  As  soon 
as  it  was  reported  to  us,  through  our  diplomatic  representa- 
tives, that  the  new  governments  in  Bolivia,  Peru,  Argentina, 
Brazil,  and  Panama  were  in  control  of  the  administrative  ma- 
chinery of  the  state,  with  the  apparent  general  acquiescence 
of  their  peoples,  and  that  they  were  willing  and  apparently 
able  to  discharge  their  international  and  conventional  obliga- 
tions, they  were  recognized  by  our  Government."4 

3  Jefferson  to  Pinckney,  Works,  III,  500,  quoted  in  Council  Speech. 


In  one  section  of  Latin  America,  however,  Stimson  could  not 
follow  this  traditional  policy.  In  the  five  republics  of  Central 
America  (excluding  Panama)  "An  entirely  different  situa- 
tion exists  from  that  normally  presented."  For  these  little 
states,  under  a  treaty  signed  in  1907  and  renewed  in  1923,  had 
bound  themselves  not  to  recognize  revolutionary  governments 
in  each  other's  countries  until  they  had  been  approved  in  a 
national  election.  The  State  Department  under  Secretary 
Hughes  had  announced  its  adherence  to  their  principle,  and 
Stimson  followed  the  same  policy.  The  reason  for  the  treaty 
of  1923  was  simply  that  most  of  the  Central  American  re- 
publics required  a  special  method  of  discouraging  their  turbu- 
lent citizens  from  constant  rebellion  and  military  uprising, 
and  although  the  policy  of  Hughes  involved  "possible  difficul- 
ties and  dangers  of  application,"  Stimson  believed  in  1931 
"that  no  impartial  student  can  avoid  the  conclusion  that  the 
treaty  and  the  policy  which  it  established  have  been  produc- 
tive of  very  great  good."  It  had  materially  reduced  the  in- 
cidence of  bloodshed  in  the  turbulent  and  immature  republics 
of  Central  America. 

In  1934,  when  the  Central  American  republics  themselves 
abandoned  the  treaty  of  1923,  the  United  States  extended  its 
doctrine  of  de  facto  recognition  to  all  of  Latin  America.  Stim- 
son by  that  time  was  no  longer  in  close  touch  with  Latin 
American  policy,  but  he  believed  that  the  Roosevelt  adminis- 
tration did  well  in  avoiding  a  return  to  the  misplaced  morality 
of  Woodrow  Wilson. 

The  policy  of  promptly  recognizing  de  facto  governments 
was  one  way  of  avoiding  intervention  in  the  internal  affairs 
of  Latin  American  countries.  Another  method,  also  contrary 
to  the  practice  of  Mr.  Wilson,  was  to  withhold  arms  and 
munitions  from  insurrectionists.  Twice  in  the  first  two  years  of 
Stimson's  service  the  President  imposed  embargoes  on  the 
shipment  of  arms  to  revolutionaries.  In  1929  the  embargo  was 
applied  against  Mexican  rebels;  the  rebellion  failed,  and  the 
embargo  was  generally  applauded.  In  1930,  acting  on  exactly 
the  same  principles,  the  administration  imposed  a  similar 
embargo  against  revolutionaries  in  Brazil,  but  this  time  the 
rebellion  was  almost  immediately  successful,  and  Stimson  was 
widely  criticized,  first,  for  backing  the  wrong  horse,  and  second, 


for  "taking  sides  in  civil  strife."  Both  criticisms  he  considered 
wide  of  the  mark.  It  was  not  the  object  of  the  United  States 
to  pick  the  winner  in  Latin  American  civil  conflict,  nor  was 
it  "taking  sides"  to  withhold  munitions  from  rebels.  The  Amer- 
ican policy,  formally  embodied  in  joint  resolutions  of  the 
Congress  in  191  a5  and  1922  and  in  an  inter- American  treaty 
of  1928,  was  to  give  its  recognition  and  support  to  the  existing 
government  and  to  embargo  shipments  to  any  rebel  group 
whose  formal  belligerence  had  not  been  recognized.6  This 
was  a  position  which  Stimson  accepted  and  sustained  with 
great  vigor;  he  had  an  abiding  dislike  for  the  few  Americans 
who  chose  to  make  money  out  of  the  dirty  business  of  provid- 
ing weapons  for  revolutionaries.  Both  as  United  States  At- 
torney in  New  York  and  as  Secretary  of  War  he  had  "per- 
sonally witnessed  the  activities  by  which  some  of  our  munitions 
manufacturers  for  sordid  gain  became- a  veritable  curse  to  the 
stability  of  our  neighboring  republics";  as  United  States 
Attorney,  indeed,  he  had  received  the  formal  approval  and 
thanks  of  Secretary  of  State  Root  for  his  action  against  the 
Americans  engaged  in  that  sordid  traffic. 

"With  these  activities  in  mind,"  he  continued,  "I  had  little 
difficulty  in  reaching  the  conclusion  that  those  who  argued  for 
the  liberty  of  our  munitions  manufacturers  to  continue  for 
profit  a  traffic  which  was  staining  with  blood  the  soil  of  the 
Central  American  republics  were  not  the  progressives  in  inter- 
national law  and  practice."  He  preferred  the  policy  of  prompt 
embargo  against  rebels.  "Until  belligerency  is  recognized  and 
until  the  duty  of  neutrality  arises,  all  the  humane  predisposi- 
tions towards  stability  of  government,  the  preservation  of 
international  amity,  and  the  protection  of  established  inter- 
course are  in  favor  of  the  existing  government."7  This  policy 
was  one  which  Stimson  had  cause  to  advocate  again  a  few  years 
later  on  behalf  of  the  mother  country  of  Hispanic  America. 

5  In  the  framing  of  the  resolution .  of  1912  Stimson  shared  as  Secretary  of  War. 

6  Unfortunately  for  Stimson,  when  he  imposed  the  embargo  against  the  Brazilian 
rebels,  he  was  not  informed  of  the  treaty  of  1928.  This  oversight  naturally  produced 
"some  rather  nasty  remarks"  when  he  announced  it  in  Cabinet,  though  he  could  properly 
say  in  reply  that  "even  without  the  treaty  I  had  acted  rightly,  which  was  a  good  deal 
better  than  if  I  had   acted  wrongly  in  the   face  of  the  treaty."    (Diary,   November 
7,  1930) 

7  Council  Speech. 


A  third  general  Latin  American  policy  of  the  State  Depart- 
ment in  the  Hoover  administration  was  its  refusal  to  use  the 
authority  and  weight  of  the  American  Government  on  behalf 
of  the  financial  interests  of  private  citizens  in  Latin  America. 
Stimson  took  his  cue  here  from  Elihu  Root,  whose  words  he 
quoted  in  a  speech  to  the  Army  War  College  on  January  5, 
1931.  "He  said,  'It  has  long  been  the  established  policy  of 
the  United  States  not  to  use  its  Army  and  Navy  for  the  collec- 
tion of  such  debts.'  By  that  he  meant  the  debts  owed  by  a 
foreign  government  to  American  citizens.  He  went  on:  'We 
have  not  considered  the  use  of  force  for  such  a  purpose  consist- 
ent with  that  honorable  respect  for  the  independent  sovereignty 
of  other  members  of  the  family  of  nations  which  is  a  most  im- 
portant principle  of  international  law  and  the  chief  protection 
of  weak  nations  against  oppression.'  That  has  been,  I  think, 
a  fair  statement  of  the  honorable  position  of  this  country 
in  that  particular  matter."  The  same  point  was  made  with 
emphasis  by  Mr.  Hoover  in  his  inaugural  address.  When  fla- 
grant injustice  was  done  to  American  investors,  the  State  De- 
partment, under  Stimson  as  under  those  before  and  after  him, 
was  quite  prepared  to  make  diplomatic  representations,  but 
the  "big  stick"  was  not  at  the  disposal  of  every  citizen  who 
had  a  claim  in  Latin  America. 

This  policy  had  already  been  followed  by  the  State  Depart- 
ment and  by  Ambassador  Morrow  in  arranging  a  settlement 
of  long-standing  controversies  with  Mexico  in  1928.  It  was 
followed  by  Stimson  in  1929  in  Cuba,  when  he  refused  to  sup- 
port the  claim  of  one  Barlow  against  the  Cuban  Government. 
Barlow  had  friends  in  the  Senate,  and  the  Secretary  of  State 
was  forced  to  defend  his  stand  before  the  Senate  Foreign 
Affairs  Committee,  but  most  of  the  Senators  were  friendly. 

Stimson  received  a  less  friendly  response  in  the  spring  of 
1931  when  he  categorically  refused  to  permit  American  forces 
to  proceed  into  the  interior  of  Nicaragua  to  protect  American 
life  and  property  endangered  by  raids  of  the  outlaw  followers 
of  Sandino.  "This  Government,"  he  announced,  "cannot  un- 
dertake the  general  protection  of  Americans  throughout  the 
country  with  American  forces.  To  do  so  would  lead  to  diffi- 
culties and  commitments  which  this  Government  does  not 


propose  to  undertake.  .  .  .  Those  who  remain  do  so  at  their 
own  risk.  .  .  ."  This  blunt  announcement  was  widely  criticized 
as  a  sudden  reversal  of  the  American  position  in  Nicaragua, 
but  Stimson  stuck  to  his  guns.  And  some  bluntness  \vas  neces- 
sary, for  "the  American  interests  on  the  east  coast  have  got  to 
be  so  that  they  feel  that  they  have  a  right  to  call  for  troops 
whenever  any  danger  apprehends.  In  that  way  they  are  a 
pampered  lot  of  people.  .  .  ."  (Diary,  April  15,  1931)  This 
was  the  sort  of  attitude  which  could  not  be  permitted  to  grow 
unchecked ;  it  flew  directly  in  the  face  of  Stimson's  announced 
intention  to  withdraw  the  marines  from  Nicaragua  after  the 
next  election  in  1932.  Each  intervention  by  American  troops 
undermined  the  slowly  growing  capacity  of  the  Nicaraguan 
Government  to  maintain  order  with  its  marine-trained  forces. 
Fortunately,  Stimson  found  that  his  refusal  to  protect  Amer- 
ican business  interests  in  the  Nicaraguan  interior  was  well  re- 
ceived in  Congress. 

The  Nicaraguan  policy  announced  in  April,  1931,  was  gen- 
erally maintained  both  in  that  country  and  elsewhere  through 
the  next  two  years.  Stimson  reluctantly  permitted  naval  vessels 
to  proceed  to  ports  where  there  was  unrest,  but  he  firmly 
opposed  any  extended  police  operations  beyond  those  to  which 
the  Government  was  already  committed  in  Haiti  and  Nica- 
ragua. Particularly  after  the  beginning  of  the  Far  Eastern 
crisis  in  1931  he  was  opposed  to  such  action.  It  would  be  con- 
trary to  his  whole  policy  in  Latin  America,  and  it  would  also 
be  used  against  him  in  the  Far  East.  When  he  was  asked  by 
a  visitor  in  Mkrch,  1932,  whether  he  would  land  forces  if  they 
were  needed  to  protect  American  interests  in  Chile  and  Colom- 
bia, "I  told  him  not  on  your  life;  that  if  we  landed  a  single 
soldier  among  those  South  Americans  now,  it  would  undo 
all  the  labor  of  three  years,  and  it  would  put  me  in  absolutely 
wrong  in  China,  where  Japan  has  done  all  of  this  monstrous 
work  under  the  guise  of  protecting  her  nationals  with  a  land- 
ing force."  (Diary,  March  7,  1932) 

Perhaps  the  most  striking  Latin  American  policy  of  the 
Hoover  administration  was  its  deliberate  pursuit  of  noninter- 
vention in  the  sensitive  Central  American  and  Caribbean  area. 
It  was  here  that  American  policy  in  the  past  had  given  rise  to 


especial  fear  and  suspicion  in  Latin  America.  In  a  radio  ad- 
dress on  May  5,  1931,  on  "The  Work  of  the  State  Depart- 
ment," Stimson  pointed  out  that  the  development  of  sound 
inter-American  relations  had  been  retarded  "by  several  his- 
toric sore  spots  which  have  been  obstinately  interfering  with 
the  growth  of  good  will  and  friendly  relations  between  us  and 
our  neighbors  to  the  south.  Bitter  memories  arising  out  of 
former  differences  with  Mexico ;  the  occupation  by  our  forces 
of  Haiti  under  a  treaty  with  that  nation  made  in  1916;  the 
presence  of  our  marines  in  Nicaragua,  though  there  at  the 
request  of  her  government  and  for  the  purpose  of  assisting 
her  in  the  training  of  her  constabulary,  have  all  suffered  dis- 
tortion in  South  America  unwarranted  by  these  events  as  we 
understand  them.  Each  has  been  used  by  the  enemies  and  critics 
of  the  United  States  as  proof  positive  that  we  are  an  imperial- 
istic people  prone  to  use  our  power  in  subverting  the  inde- 
pendence of  our  neighbors.  And  these  accusations,  however 
unjustifiable,  have  damaged  our  good  name,  our  credit,  and 
our  trade  far  beyond  the  apprehension  of  our  own  people." 

The  Mexican  boil  had  been  lanced  by  Dwight  Morrow.  It 
was  further  salved  by  prompt  American  support  of  the  Mexi- 
can Government  against  armed  rebellion  in  1929.  In  Cuba 
Stimson  repeatedly  refused  to  intervene  under  the  Platt 
Amendment;  whatever  the  need  for  such  intervention  in  the 
past,  he  believed  that  "the  situation  in  Cuba  ought  to  so 
develop  that  less  and  less  pressure  would  be  necessary  on  the 
part  of  the  United  States  to  keep  matters  straight."  (Diary, 
.September  18,  1930)  Stimson  believed  with  Elihu  Root  that 
the  Platt  Amendment  w-as  "not  intended  to  produce  meddling 
in  the  internal  affairs  of  Cuba,"  and  he  neither  opposed  nor 
gave  special  support  to  the  government  of  President  Machado. 

In  Nicaragua  the  general  peace  established  by  Stimson's 
mission  of  1929  continued  throughout  his  term  as  Secretary  of 
State,  punctuated  only  by  sporadic  outbreaks  from  the  bandit 
Sandino;  these  outbreaks  served  to  prove  Sandino  a  skillful 
guerrilla,  but  in  their  violence  and  irresponsibility  they  also 
helped  to  destroy  his  reputation  as  a  great  patriot.  They  did 
not  divert  Stimson  from  a  firm  determination  to  get  American 
marines  out  of  Nicaragua,  and  after  the  United  States  had 


kept  its  pledge  to  hold  a  second  fair  and  free  election  in  1932, 
the  marines  were  duly  withdrawn. 

In  Haiti,  following  the  recommendation  of  a  commission  led 
by  Cameron  Forbes  and  including  as  a  very  active  member 
William  Allen  White,  the  State  Department  undertook  the 
liquidation  of  the  work  begun  by  President  Wilson  and  his 
Assistant  Secretary  of  the  Navy,  Franklin  Roosevelt.8  Stimson 
was  more  pessimistic  about  the  future  of  Haiti  than  about  that 
of  his  own  experiment  in  Nicaragua,  but  he  was  bound  to 
admit  in  1932  and  early  1933  that  the  Haitians  were  doing  bet- 
ter than  he  had  expected.  The  withdrawal  planned  by  the 
Hoover  administration  was  completed  in  1934  by  its  successor ; 
Mr.  Roosevelt  accomplished  in  an  executive  agreement  what 
Mr.  Hoover  had  tried  to  do  in  a  treaty  that  went  unratified. 

All  these  actions  were  examples  of  a  shift  in  policy  which 
Stimson  considered  a  natural  development  in  maturing  Amer- 
ican history — the  abandonment. of  the  so-called  Roosevelt  cor- 
ollary to  the  Monroe  Doctrine.  Theodore  Roosevelt  had 
believed  it  necessary,  in  both  international  politics  and  inter- 
national law,  that  the  American  denial  of  any  European 
right  to  intervene  should  imply  the  duty  of  the  United  States 
to  intervene  herself  whenever  a  Latin  American  government 
was  wholly  unable  to  meet  its  foreign  obligations.  This  was 
the  policy  which  had  brought  American  marines  to  Nicaragua, 
an  American-written  .constitution  to  Haiti,  and  American  cus- 
toms collectors  to  the  Dominican  Republic.  The  marines,  the 
constitution,  and  the  collector  of  customs  were  all  honestly 
intended  to  serve  the  best  interests  of  the  country  to  which  they 
were  sent,  and  they  all  did  good  service.  But  they  were  Amer- 
ican, foreign,  Yanqui,  and  as  time  passed  they  aroused  more 
resentment  than  they  did  gratitude.  So  at  the  end  of  the 
Coolidge  administration,  in  a  long  memorandum  by  J.  Reuben 
Clark,  the  State  Department  abandoned  Theodore  Roose- 
velt's corollary;  the  memorandum  was  duly  published  under 
Stimson  in  March,  1930,  and  Stimson  himself  asserted  the 
Monroe  Doctrine  in  terms  which  excluded  intervention  even 

8  In  early  1933,  when  Stimson  made  his  first  visit  to  Franklin  Roosevelt,  he  heard 
a  high-spirited  account  of  his  new  friend's  early  work  in  writing  the  Constitution  of 


with  the  best  intentions :  "The  Monroe  Doctrine  was  a  declara- 
tion of  the  United  States  versus  Europe — not  of  the  United 
States  versus  Latin  America."9  Stimson  always  believed  that 
the  American  record  in  Cuba,  Santo  Domingo,  and  Nicaragua 
was  on  balance  a  credit  to  the  United  States,  but  he  recognized 
that  the  rising  nationalism  of  Latin  America,  aided  and  abetted 
by  uninformed  and  captious  criticism  in  the  United  States,  had 
made  it  time  to  retire. 

The  American  nations  are  strong  on  conferences  and  com- 
missions, and  the  Hoover  administration  bore  its  share  of  this 
burden.  Mr.  Hoover's  greatest  personal  triumph  in  this  field 
was  his  settlement  of  the  long-standing  Tacna-Arica  dispute 
in  which  Stimson  had  been  counsel  to  the  State  Department 
three  years  before.  The  ugly  issues  between  Colombia  and 
Peru  in  Leticia,  and  between  Bolivia  and  Paraguay  in  the 
Chaco,  had  the  constant  and  devoted  attention  of  Francis 
White,  who  sought  with  endless  patience  and  good  will  to 
use  American  good  offices  to  end  these  disputes,  but  without 
success.  The  Letician  affair  was  finally  settled  by  the  League 
of  Nations,  but  the  Chaco  became  the  scene  of  the  first  de- 
clared war  in  the  Western  Hemisphere  in  the  twentieth  cen- 
tury. In  all  these  cases  the  United  States  was  careful  to  avoid 
any  heavy-handed  action,  and  occasionally  Stimson  was  an- 
noyed by  his  own  restraint.  "I  am  getting  quite  blue  over  the 
bad  way  in  which  all  Latin  America  is  showing  up.  It  seems 
as  if  there  is  nothing  we  could  count  on  so  far  as  their  having 
any  courage  and  independence  is  concerned,  and  yet  if  we  try 
to  take  the  lead  for  them,  at  once  there  is  a  cry  against  Ameri- 
can domination  and  imperialism."  (Diary,  November  n, 
1932)  He  had  the  satisfaction  in  August,  1932,  of  seeing  the 
Latin  American  republics  adopt  his  doctrine  of  nonrecogni- 
tion  of  territorial  conquest,  but  the  doctrine  did  not  in  the  end 
restrain  the  Bolivians  and  Paraguayans  from  a  particularly 
senseless  war. 

The  Latin  American  policy  of  the  Hoover  administration 
was  overshadowed  after  the  middle  of  1931,  first  by  the  eco- 
nomic crisis  in  Europe,  and  then  by  the  political  crisis  in 
Asia.  But  when  Stimson  came  to  the  end  of  his  term  as  Secre- 

9  Council  Speech. 


tary  of  State,  and  cast  up  his  accounts  in  an  article  for  Foreign 
Affairs?"  he  found  that  the  Latin  American  policy  he  had 
pursued  under  Mr.  Hoover  was  the  best  available  example 
of  "the  fundamental  purposes  and  philosophy  of  this  adminis- 
tration" in  foreign  affairs.  "It  has  not  hesitated  to  impose 
upon  itself,  in  the  interest  of  the  development  of  the  peace  of 
the  world,  the  same  standards  which  it  has  insisted  upon  in 
respect  to  the  world  at  large.  It  has  not  allowed  the  pre- 
ponderance of  the  material  and  military  power  of  the  United 
States  in  this  hemisphere  to  prescribe  a  different  rule  of 
conduct  here  from  that  which  it  has  believed  to  be  necessary 
to  the  development  of  peaceful  relations  elsewhere  through- 
out the  world.  This  has  been  true  in  spite  of  the  fact  that  one 
of  the  localities  which  has  called  for  the  exercise  of  these 
principles  has  been  the  one  spot  external  to  our  shores  which 
nature  has  decreed  to  be  most  vital  to  our  national  safety,  not 
to  mention  our  prosperity,  namely,  the  narrow  isthmus  of 
Central  America  and  the  islands  of  the  Caribbean  Sea  com- 
manding the  entrance  to  the  Panama  Canal,  that  vital  link  in 
our  national  defense. 

"From  the  beginning,  Mr.  Hoover's  administration  has 
been  determined  to  better  the  relationship  of  the  Government 
with  our  Latin  American  neighbors.  We  have  sought  to  make 
our  policy  towards  them  so  clear  in  its  implications  of  justice 
and  good  will,  in  its  avoidance  of  anything  which  could  be 
even  misconstrued  into  a  policy  of  forceful  intervention  or  a 
desire  for  exploitation  of  those  republics  and  their  citizens,  as 
to  reassure  the  most  timid  or  suspicious  among  them.  We  have 
been  withdrawing  our  marines  as  rapidly  as  possible  from 
Santo  Domingo,  Haiti,  and  Nicaragua,  completing  in  the 
last-named  country,  amid  the  grateful  recognition  of  all  its 
parties,  a  successful  educational  experiment  in  the  funda- 
mentals of  self-government  in  the  shape  of  free  elections.  We 
have  redeclared  once  again  our  national  policy  against  the 
use  of  military  pressure  to  collect  business  debts  in  foreign 
countries.  We  have  promptly  lent  friendly  assistance  per- 
mitted by  international  law  to  the  Mexican  Government  in 

10  "Bases  of  American  Foreign  Policy  during  the  Past  Four  Years,"  Foreign  Affairs, 
April,   1933. 


quelling  a  military  revolt  against  its  authority.  We  have  re- 
established the  sensible  practice  of  our  forefathers  as  to  the 
recognition  of  new  governments  in  conformity  with  their 
rights  to  regulate  their  own  internal  affairs,  and,  in  view  of 
the  economic  depression  and  the  consequent  need  for  prompt 
measures  of  financial  stabilization,  have  accorded  to  them 
recognition  under  this  policy  with  as  little  delay  as  possible 
in  order  to  give  them  the  quickest  possible  opportunities  for 
recovering  their  economic  poise.  We  have  co-operated  with 
the  Latin  American  states  in  their  efforts  to  restore  peace 
among  their  numbers  in  the  Chaco  and  on  the  Amazon.  We 
have  completed  the  settlement  of  Tacna-Arica.  And  in  social 
and  intellectual  ways  we  have  endeavored  to  establish  the 
nations  of  Latin  America  as  our  associates  and  our  friends  in 
intellectual  and  commercial  intercourse.  Mr.  Hoover,  as  Presi- 
dent-elect, visited  them  in  a  journey  through  South  America 
for  the  very  purpose  of  dissipating  the  fears  and  antagonisms 
which  had  grown  up  amongst  some  of  them  as  to  the  intentions 
and  policies  of  this  Government.  Subsequently,  we  have  enter- 
tained as  national  guests  the  Presidents-elect  of  Mexico, 
Brazil,  and  Colombia.  We  have  enlisted  our  great  institutions 
in  the  undertaking  of  systematic  intellectual  exchange  with 
them ;  and  together  with  them  the  United  States  has  become 
officially  represented  in  many  world  conferences  upon  scien- 
tific and  welfare  advancement.  These  acts  have  all  been  de- 
signed to  impress  them,  as  well  as  the  other  nations  of  the 
world,  that  the  United  States  is  aiming  for  progress  by  the 
creation  of  good  will  and  human  advancement,  and  not  by 

The  London  Treaty  and  Latin  American  policy  were  typ- 
ical constructive  undertakings  of  the  sort  that  Stimson  had 
anticipated  when  he  left  Manila  in  March,  1929.  Taken  to- 
gether, they  represented  a  substantial  achievement  for  his 
first  two  years.  But  these  two  years  are  separated  by  the  two 
that  followed  as  light  is  separated  from  darkness,  and  we  shall 
do  well  to  stop  here  for  a  last  look  at  the  situation  of  the  world 
as  it  appeared  from  the  State  Department  between  1929  and 


These  were  the  last  two  years  of  Stimson's  life  in  which  he 
was  able  to  think  of  peace  as  reasonably  well  assured,  and 
international  good  will  as  something  more  than  a  brave  hope. 
In  later  years  he  remained  a  believer  in  the  ideal  of  peace  and 
the  objective  of  good  will,  but  after  1931  he  faced,  with  all 
other  men  of  good  will,  the  lengthening  shadow  of  rising  law- 
lessness among  the  nations.  Even  in  1931  the  great  depression 
had  begun  to  overturn  governments  and  rekindle  ancient 
grievances,  but  in  the  early  months  of  that  year  it  still  seemed 
possible  that  the  postwar  settlement  might  not  be  seriously 

These  two  years  were  years  of  peace  and  trust,  and  Stimson 
adopted  as  his  guide  in  foreign  policy  a  principle  he  always 
tried  to  follow  in  personal  relations — the  principle  that  the 
way  to  make  men  trustworthy  is  to  trust  them.  In  this  spirit 
he  made  one  decision  for  which  he  was  later  severely  criti- 
cized: he  closed  down  the  so-called  Black  Chamber — the 
State  Department's  code-cracking  office.  This  act  he  never 
regretted.  In  later  years  he  was  to  permit  and  indeed  en- 
courage similar  labors  in  another  Department,  but  in  later 
years  the  situation  was  different.  In  1929  the  world  was  striv- 
ing with  good  will  for  lasting  peace,  and  in  this  effort  all  the 
nations  were  parties.  Stimson,  as  Secretary  of  State,  was  deal- 
ing as  a  gentleman  with  the  gentlemen  sent  as  ambassadors  and 
ministers  from  friendly  nations,  and,  as  he  later  said,  'Gentle- 
men do  not  read  each  other's  mail.5 

In  a  similar  spirit,  the  spirit  of  peacemaking  and  mutual 
good  will,  Stimson  had  made  one  other  move  which  brought 
him  some  criticism.  In  the  summer  of  1929  a  serious  issue 
arose  between  China  and  Soviet  Russia  over  their  conflicting 
interests  and  rights  in  North  Manchuria.  In  the  course  of  this 
dispute  the  Russians  sent  troops  into  Chinese  territory,  and  for 
a  time  there  seemed  to  be  danger  of  either  war  or  annexation. 
Stimson,  undismayed  by  the  fact  that  the  United  States  had 
no  diplomatic  relations  with  Soviet  Russia,  took  the  lead  in 
organizing  an  international  demarche  invoking  the  Kellogg- 
Briand  Pact  and  pleading  with  both  nations  to  avoid  a  breach 
of  the  pact,  and  of  the  peace.  This  demarche  greatly  annoyed 
the  Russians,  whose  self-righteousness  in  foreign  affairs  makes 


that  of  all  other  nations  seem  mild  indeed,  but  it  was  notable 
that  their  troops  were  quickly  withdrawn  and  a  peaceful  settle- 
ment was  reached.  The  Kellogg-Briand  Pact  and  Stimson's 
initiative  may  have  had  very  little  to  do  with  this  gratifying 
result,  but  the  fact  that  the  peace  was  kept  seemed  encourag- 
ing at  the  time.  It  was  the  first  invocation  of  the  pact,  and 
from  its  apparent  success  believers  in  the  new  order  of  peace 
took  courage. 

It  was  only  in  1931  that  the  weakness  of  the  economic  and 
political  underpinnings  of  the  postwar  peace  began  to  make 
itself  apparent.  Almost  overnight,  in  May,  1931,  the  whole 
tenor  of  the  State  Department's  work  and  of  Stimson's  own 
activities  was  radically  changed. 


The  Beginnings  of  Disaster 


FIVE  times  in  Stimson's  life  a  turning  point  in  the  world's 
affairs  coincided  with  a  drastic  change  in  his  own  personal 
activity.  The  first  was  in  1912,  when  Theodore  Roosevelt  with 
noble  motives  wrecked  the  Republican  party  as  Stimson  had 
known  it.  The  second  was  in  1917,  when  war  came  to  him  as 
to  millions  of  other  Americans.  The  last  two  were  1940  and 
1945;  in  the  former  year  a  desperate  crisis  gave  him  a  new 
opportunity  for  activity;  in  the  latter  decisive  victory  released 
him  to  retirement.  The  third  time  was  in  1931. 

To  Arnold  Toynbee,  writing  a  few  months  later  of  the 
shrunken  hopes  and  bloated  fears  resulting  from  that  year's 
events,  1931  was  the  annus  terribilis  of  the  postwar  era.1  In 
1931  three  terrible  facts  in  deadly  series  made  themselves  ap- 
parent. First  the  rising  storm  of  a  world-wide  depression 
knocked  down  the  postwar  financial  system  as  a  willful  child 
knocks  down  a  file  of  tin  soldiers — by  toppling  the  little  fel- 
low in  the  rear  rank.  Second,  in  an  outburst  stimulated  by  suf- 
fering, and  deriving  strength  from  the  apparent  failures  of 
peaceful  leadership,  the  military  leaders  of  Japan  undertook 
a  major  adventure  in  aggression.  Third,  and  most  terrible  of 
all,  it  soon  became  clear  that  the  climate  of  opinion  in  Amer- 
ica was  such  that  the  American  Government,  in  responding 
to  this  double  challenge,  could  do  no  more  than  dull  the 

1  Arnold  J.  Toynbee,  Survey  of  International  Affairs,  1931,  Oxford  University  Tress, 
1932.  This  Annual  survey  remains  the  best  general  work  available  for  the  period  1929- 
1933  and  it  has  been  heavily  drawn  upon  in  this  and  following  chapters.  Stimson 
himself  used  it  often  in  later  years  when  he  had  occasion  to  consider  the  events  of 
his  service  as  Secretary  of  State. 



sharpest  edges  of  economic  disaster  and  military  aggression. 
Though  the  roots  of  failure  were  deep  in  earlier  years,  and 
the  hope  of  success  not  dead  for  years  afterward,  it  was  not 
hard  for  Stimson,  in  1947,  to  endorse  the  view  of  1931  that 
Toynbee  had  so  early  taken.  It  was  the  year  in  which  the  peace 
of  1919  was  challenged  and  found  wanting. 

By  the  nature  of  his  office,  Stimson  was  of  all  Americans 
the  man  most  closely  and  continuously  affected  by  these 
events.  Second  only  to  the  President,  he  was  the  responsible 
spokesman  and  leader  of  the  United  States  in  foreign  affairs, 
and  Mr.  Hoover  in  1931  and  afterward  wras  overwhelmingly 
occupied  in  his  struggle  against  economic  catastrophe  at 

Looking  back  at  this  period,  Stimson  reluctantly  concluded 
that  he  had  salvaged  very  little  from  the  storm — except  per- 
haps the  honor  of  his  country,  so  far  as  honor  can  be  saved  by 
words.  But  he  was  not  disposed  to  accept  the  blame  for  this 
result;  from  1931  to  1933  the  American  Secretary  of  State 
was  the  servant  of  events,  and  not  their  master.  And  both  in 
minor  victories  and  in  major  defeats  Stimson,  as  he  looked 
back  in  1947,  found  the  American  record  far  from  barren; 
he  felt  that  at  least  the  State  Department  had  fought  on  the 
right  side.  And  in  those  two  crowded,  bitter,  almost  disheart- 
ening years  he  saw  many  lessons  that  he  was  eager  in  1947  to 
share  with  others. 

In  order  to  make  clear  the  nature  of  his  experience  and  the 
setting  in  which  he  worked,  we  must  begin  with  a  summary  of 
his  position  in  the  early  months  of  1931,  just  before  the  storm 

The  winter  and  spring  of  1931  were  months  of  change  in 
the  senior  staff  of  the  State  Department.  It  was  as  if  Stimson, 
knowing  there  was  trouble  ahead,  had  reorganized  his  De- 
partment in  preparation.  But  one  change  was  no  part  of  any 
plan.  On  March  10,  after  a  prolonged  and  gallant  struggle, 
Under  Secretary  Cotton  died.  This  was  an  irreparable  loss. 
Joe  Cotton  had  possessed  exactly  the  kind  of  courage  that 
Stimson  needed  in  his  first  assistant — the  courage  to  talk  back, 
and  the  courage  to  support  his  chief  even  when  it  was  politic 
to  stand  aloof.  With  Cotton  in  the  State  Department,  Stimson 


had  been  able  to  stay  three  months  in  London  at  the  Naval 
Conference  with  complete  certainty  that  a  first-rate  man  was 
boldly  and  responsibly  doing  what  he  believed  Stimson  would 
want  done.  After  Cotton's  death,  when  he  was  again  abroad 
on  major  missions,  Stimson  was  never  able  to  feel  this  sort  of 
confidence  in  the  Acting  Secretary.  William  R.  Castle,  the 
man  who  replaced  Cotton,  was  not  Stimson's  choice;  though 
he  had  ability  and  wide  experience,  he  did  not  share  Stimson's 
basic  attitudes  as  Cotton  had.  The  selection  of  Castle  was 
a  mistake  which  Stimson  often  regretted.  The  two  men  were 
not  fitted  to  make  a  team.  And  although  the  choice  was 
one  strongly  urged  by  the  President,  Stimson  could  not  on 
that  account  acquit  himself  of  an  administrative  blunder. 
All  he  could  claim  was  that  he  learned  from  his  mistake, 
and  twelve  years  later  a  relatively  innocuous — and  probably 
inadvertent — piece  of  interference  in  departmental  assign- 
ments from  a  different  President  produced  an  instant  offer  of 
resignation.  From  his  experience  in  the  State  Department 
Stimson  developed  a  rule  which  he  later  applied  with  com- 
plete fidelity.  He  would  freely  recognize  the  right  of  the  Pres- 
ident to  veto  any  proposed  appointments  to  major  positions, 
but  he  would  vigorously  oppose  any  attempt  to  select  his  sub- 
ordinates for  him. 

Fortunately,  during  this  same  period  in  the  State  Depart- 
ment Stimson  was  acquiring  a  group  of  other  assistants  who 
served  him  with  distinction  in  the  following  years.  The  first 
step  had  been  taken  the  previous  November,  with  the  appoint- 
ment of  Allen  T.  Klots  as  special  assistant  to  the  Secretary. 
Klots  was  the  son  of  a  Yale  classmate,  and  for  nearly  thirty 
years  he  and  Stimson  had  been  extremely  close  to  each  other. 
Klots  had  made  a  distinguished  record  in  college,  in  war,  and 
in  Winthrop  &  Stimson.  He  served  Stimson  in  Washington 
as  the  young  lawyer  serves  a  senior  counsel — his  assignments 
were  as  varied  as  Stimson's  own. 

A  second  major  new  assistant  was  James  Grafton  Rogers, 
appointed  in  February  to  fill  a  position  long  vacant  as  Assistant 
Secretary  of  State.  Rogers  was  a  Westerner,  the  only  one  who 
ever  served  on  any  of  Stimson's  administrative  staffs.  His 
origin  was  a  political  advantage,  but  it  was  for  himself  that 


Stimson  valued  him.  He  had  great  energy  and  ability,  and  his 
gusty  wit  was  a  major  source  of  relief  from  the  dismal  burden 
of  State  Department  duties.  Rogers  became  Stimson's  constant 
adviser,  at  first  largely  on  legal  questions  and  later  on  matters 
of  major  policy.  More  than  any  other  individual,  he  took  the 
place  of  Cotton. 

Two  more  important  additions  were  made  in  April  and 
May.  Cotton's  death  had  left  the  Department  without  a  senior 
officer  experienced  in  economic  matters.  To  remedy  this  weak- 
ness Stimson  appointed  Harvey  H.  Bundy,  a  Boston  lawyer 
with  experience  in  finance,  as  Assistant  Secretary,  and  Herbert 
Feis,  a  distinguished  New  York  economist,  as  Economic  Ad- 
viser to  the  Secretary.  He  never  regretted  either  appointment. 
Bundy  was  assigned  at  first  to  the  complicated  questions  of 
policy  involved  in  defaulted  foreign  loans  of  American  pri- 
vate investors  and  later  to  the  broader  problems  of  war  debts. 
Feis  became  Stimson's  primary  source  of  economic  counsel 
in  all  phases  of  foreign  affairs — he  was  the  only  man  appointed 
by  Stimson  who  was  retained  in  office  by  the  next  administra- 

With  these  four  appointments  Stimson  rounded  out  the  team 
with  which  he  served  through  his  last  two  testing  years  as 
Secretary  of  State.  The  new  men  ably  supplemented  those 
whom  he  had  with  him  already.  Captain  Eugene  Regnier, 
who  had  been  with  him  in  the  Philippines,  remained  at  his 
side  as  the  perfect  aide,  and  something  more.  In  the  complex 
problems  of  entertainment  and  protocol  which  are  inevitable 
in  the  State  Department  he  was  invaluable,  and  his  intimate 
counsel  was  important  in  wider  fields.  Assistant  Secretary 
White  remained  in  charge  of  Latin  America,  and  the  ad- 
ministrative direction  of  the  Department  and  the  foreign  ser- 
vice continued  to  rest  in  the  experienced  and  skillful  hands  of 
Assistant  Secretary  Wilbur  J.  Carr. 

Under  Castle  in  policy  and  Carr  in  administration,  the  State 
Department's  career  officers  at  home  and  abroad  executed 
their  regular  assignments  with  their  accustomed  skill  and  de- 
votion. It  is  the  habit  of  many  Americans  to  assume  that  their 
foreign  service  does  not  match  that  of  other  nations.  Stimson 
by  1931  was  persuaded  that  this  view  was  wholly  wrong,  and 


the  events  of  the  next  two  years  reinforced  him  in  the  convic- 
tion that  American  professional  diplomats  were  at  least  as 
good  as  any  in  the  world — their  difficulty  was  that  their  coun- 
try seldom  supported  them  with  effective  policies. 

In  his  last  two  years  Stimson  relied  heavily  on  this  powerful 
and  well-balanced  team,  and  it  was  not  the  fault  of  his  as- 
sociates that  he  never  was  able  to  look  back  at  the  State  De- 
partment with  the  same  sense  of  reminiscent  satisfaction  that 
he  felt  when  he  recalled  the  Federal  Building  in  New  York, 
or  Malacanan  Palace,  or,  later,  the  Pentagon  Building.  The 
team  was  a  good  one,  but  it  was  forced  to  fight  a  losing  battle. 

It  was  characteristic  of  the  period  that  Stimson's  State  De- 
partment assistants  were  assembled  with  far  greater  difficulty 
than  any  of  his  other  staffs,  with  the  possible  exception  of  his 
small  group  of  American  advisers  in  the  Philippines.  The 
difficulty  in  the  Philippines  was  natural  and  understandable ; 
the  tradition  of  colonial  service  was  never  very  strong  in  the 
United  States,  and  1928  was  not  a  year  in  which  many  Ameri- 
cans were  eager  to  travel  8,000  miles  to  participate  in  an  un- 
certain experiment.  But  Stimson  was  surprised  and  a  little 
disappointed  to  find  that  many  first-rate  men  would  not  come 
even  as  far  as  Washington  to  serve  as  his  major  assistants. 
There  was  no  dearth  of  men  who  wanted  to  be  Assistant  Sec- 
retary of  State;  but,  in  one  of  Stimson's  favorite  phrases,  the 
men  who  made  themselves  applicants  were  usually  men  who 
were  thinking  'what  the  job  would  do  for  them,'  and  he  was 
hunting  for  men  whose  first  interest  was  'what  they  could  do 
for  the  job.'  Bundy  and  Feis  were  appointed  only  after  other 
men  more  familiar  to  Stimson  had  regretfully  refused  to  serve. 
It  was  true  that  1931  was  a  year  in  which  many  an  outstanding 
younger  man  in  the  business  or  professional  world  of  New 
York  was  hard  pressed  to  protect  his  family  and  his  career, 
and  Stimson  never  presumed  to  judge  any  individual's  de- 
cision. But  taken  together,  the  series  of  refusals  he  received 
was  indicative  of  the  preoccupation  of  able  men  in  1931  with 
their  own  affairs ;  the  needs  of  the  nation,  and  the  world,  were 
given  second  rank.  The  usual  reluctance  of  private  citizens 
of  standing  and  ability  to  become  entangled  with  government 
was  intensified  in  1931  by  the  economic  depression  and  the 
evident  difficulties  faced  by  an  administration  which  lacked 


congressional  support.  And  as  he  pleaded  with  the  men  he 
wanted,  Stimson  had  neither  the  crusading  spirit  of  Theodore 
Roosevelt's  day  nor  the  overriding  appeal  of  national  defense 
to  assist  him.  Yet  events  were  to  demonstrate  that  there  were 
few  periods  in  which  the  American  State  Department  had 
greater  need  for  talented  officers  than  1931  and  1932,  and  al- 
though Stimson  in  the  end  obtained  men  whom  he  would  not 
for  a  moment  have  traded  of?  for  others,  it  was  only  after 
prolonged  labor  and  much  lost  time  that  he  got  them.  If  it  had 
not  been  for  the  devoted  and  constant  searches  of  Frankfurter, 
Roberts,  and  Klots,  he  might  have  had  to  wait  indefinitely. 

And  he  was  saddened  to  observe  in  1947,  as  the  war  atmos- 
phere died  away,  that  his  successors  in  Cabinet  office  were 
having  similar  trouble.  The  labor  of  disinterested  Government 
service,  and  the  financial  sacrifice  which  it  involved,  seemed 
to  fall  upon  a  relatively  small  group  of  men.  To  Stimson  this 
was  doubly  unfortunate — it  meant  that  many  able  men  never 
gave  any  return  of  public  service  to  their  country ;  it  also  meant 
that  men  who  ought  to  be  permitted  respite  in  private  life,  for 
the  pursuit  of  their  chosen  profession  and  the  repair  of  finances 
damaged  by  Government  salaries,  were  overworked  and  pena- 
lized by  their  own  conscientious  response  to  calls  for  help. 

If  the  depression  was  a  contributing  difficulty  in  Stimson's 
search  for  able  subordinates,  it  was  an  even  greater  element 
in  his  relationship  with  Mr.  Hoover.  To  Stimson  it  always 
seemed  that  there  were  few  loyalties  more  binding  than  that 
of  a  Cabinet  officer  to  his  chief,  and  that  no  obligation  was 
more  compelling  than  that  of  respect  for  the  President  of  the 
United  States.  It  is  therefore  somewhat  difficult  to  report 
clearly  and  properly  the  deep  divisions  of  both  principle  and 
attitude  which  developed  in  the  last  two  years  of  the  Hoover 
administration  between  the  President  and  his  Secretary  of 
State.  The  matter  is  not  made  easier  by  the  fact  that  Stimson's 
personal  admiration  and  affection  for  Herbert  Hoover  were 
never  greater  than  in  1947.  Mr.  Hoover  was  to  him  one  of  the 
great  Americans  of  his  time,  and  one  of  the  most  unjustly  ma- 
ligned. It  was  of  the  greatest  importance  to  him,  therefore, 
that  no  words  of  his  should  be  taken  as  a  new  source  for  unfair 

At  the  same  time  Mr.  Hoover  and  Stimson  always  did  each 


other  the  honor  of  frankness,  and  their  differences  were  can- 
didly recognized  by  both  men.  Both  understood  that  Mr. 
Hoover's  views  would  always  be  controlling,  and  neither  al- 
lowed, differences  of  opinion  to  do  more  than  cause  occasional 
very  short-lived  outbursts  of  temper.  No  record  of  Stimson's 
service  as  Secretary  of  State  would  be  remotely  accurate  with- 
out a  frank  recognition  of  their  differences,  and  no  statement  of 
Stimson's  opinions  would  be  fair  to  Mr.  Hoover  if  it  were  to 
give  the  impression  that  he  shared  them  all. 

Temperamentally  Stimson  and  Mr.  Hoover  were  wholly 
different.  One  was  by  nature  and  training  an  advocate  and  a 
fighter;  the  other  was  an  organizer  and  planner.  Mr.  Hoover 
liked  to  calculate  his  moves  as  he  would  the  building  of  a 
bridge,  while  Stimson  preferred  to  choose  his  main  objective 
and  then  charge  ahead  without  worrying,  confident  that  ag- 
gressive executive  leadership  would  win  followers.  Neither 
method  was  entitled  to  any  special  credit  over  the  other,  and 
successful  presidents  have  used  both.  But  Mr.  Hoover  and 
Stimson  were  unusually  one-sided  in  their  respective  prefer- 
ences. To  Stimson  Mr.  Hoover's  habit  of  considering  his  prob- 
lem from  all  angles  often  seemed  to  be  nothing  but  a  prefer- 
ence for  "seeing  the  dark  side  first"  j  he  constantly  felt  that 
Mr.  Hoover  gave  himself  unnecessary  trouble  by  his  willing- 
ness to  fret  over  hostile  criticism.  "I  do- wish  he  could  shield 
himself  against  listening  to  so  much  rumor  and  criticism.  If 
he  would  only  walk  out  his  own  way  and  not  worry  over  what 
his  enemies  say,  it  would  make  matters  so  much  easier.  .  .  . 
He  generally  comes  out  right,  but  he  wastes  an  enormous 
amount  of  nerve  tissue  and  anxiety  on  these  interruptions." 
(Diary,  December  4,  1930)  In  Stimson's  view,  this  concern 
over  what  others  thought  tended  to  deprive  Mr.  Hoover  of 
the  greatest  asset  of  an  American  President — the  right  of 

And  there  was  a  further  difference  in  temperament,  impor- 
tant beyond  its  appearance.  Mr.  Hoover  was  a  worker,  capable 
of  more  intense  and  prolonged  intellectual  effort  than  any 
other  man  Stimson  ever  met;  his  cure  for  all  his  troubles  as 
President  was  more  and  harder  work.  Stimson  was  not  made 
that  way;  his  strength  depended  on  regular  rest,  substantial 


vacations,  and  constant  physical  exercise,  nor  did  he  accept 
as  suitable  exercise  Mr.  Hoover's  game  of  medicine  ball — 
it  seemed  to  him  as  dull  as  weight  lifting,  and  about  as  refresh- 
ing. More  and  more  after  the  middle  of  1930  Stimson  found 
himself  oppressed  by  the  official  atmosphere  of  Washington. 
It  was  not  just  the  depression — it  was  the  way  the  administra- 
tion allowed  itself  to  become  absorbed  in  a  fog  of  gloom.  Mr. 
Hoover  was  fighting  hard  in  a  great  battle,  but  there  was  no 
zest  anywhere. 

Stimson  found  ways  to  escape  from  this  atmosphere.  With- 
out escape  he  could  not  have  lasted  out  his  term.  After  1929 
he  had  some  weeks  of  real  vacation  each  summer,  and  in 
Washington  he  was  able  to  get  much  refreshment  from  horse- 
back riding  and  deck  tennis.  And  he  found  encouragement 
and  lightness  of  spirit  in  one  further  quarter — occasional  visits 
to  Mr.  Justice  Oliver  Wendell  Holmes.  Justice  Holmes  had 
precisely  the  spirit  which  Stimson  missed  in  his  official  work. 
The  diary  entry  of  November  I,  1930,  contains  a  delighted 
four-page  entry  on  a  visit  to  Holmes,  of  which  the  following 
are  extracts : 

"Then  after  I  had  a  ride  on  horseback,  I  dropped  in  to  see 
Justice  Holmes.  I  felt  that  I  needed  something  to  cure  my 
staleness.  It  has  been  dreadfully  dull  and  stale,  nothing  but 
work  .  .  .  and  the  ever  present  feeling  of  gloom  that  pervades 
everything  connected  with  the  administration.  I  really  never 
knew  such  unenlivened  occasions  as  our  Cabinet  meetings. 
When  I  sat  down  today  and  tried  to  think  it  over,  I  don't  re- 
member that  there  has  ever  been  a  joke  cracked  in  a  single 
meeting  of  the  last  year  and  a  half,  nothing  but  steady,  serious 
grind.  ...  I  am  afraid  I  am  too  much  of  a  loafer  and  enjoy 
my  recreation  too  much  to  be  able  to  stand  this  thing  per- 

"With  the  staleness  arising  from  the  situation,  I  went  to 
Justice  Holmes  to  liven  me  up,  and  I  had  the  most  delightful 
talk  that  I  have  enjoyed  for  a  month  of  Sundays.  Holmes  is  the 
last  of  the  old  Roosevelt  familiars,  who  is  alive  and  in  this 
town,  and  it  was  a  joy  to  talk  with  him.  He  is  ninety  years  old 
and  gives  no  sign  of  it  in  his  liveliness  and  vigor.  He  still 
swears  like  a  trooper,  enjoys  a  joke  and  makes  plenty  of  them, 


full  of  the  life  and  vigor  that  he  used  to  have.  .  .  .  He  told 
me  that  he  had  been  having  a  rather  unsuccessful  summer  so 
far  as  self-improvement  was  concerned.  .  .  .  He  said  'the 
fact  of  the  matter  is  that  I  am  at  last  getting  a  little  old.5  I  told 
him  that  was  nonsense  while  he  was  thinking  of  self- 

"I  told  him  about  Mr.  Root's  experience  at  his  reunion, 
when  he  told  me  that  if  he  found  anybody  who  looked  decrepit, 
with  a  long  white  beard  and  white  hair,  going  around  bent 
over  a  stick,  you  may  be  sure  that  that  man  had  lived  in  the 
country  all  his  life  without  any  strain;  that  he  was  probably 
a  college  professor,  and  that  he  had  led  a  perfectly  blameless 
life,  following  every  hygienic  rule.  While  on  the  other  hand, 
when  he  found  one  of  his  classmates  who  was  vigorous,  keen, 
and  interested  in  everything  going  around,  you  can  bet  that  he 
had  lived  in  the  city  and  had  violated  every  rule  of  health  all 
his  life.  Justice  Holmes  laughed  and  said,  'Good  Lord,  that's 
just  it.  I  remember  now  a  time  many  years  ago,  the  last  time  I 
went  to  the  reunion  of  the  Class  of  '61,  and  I  went  into  the 
room  and  looked  around  and  said,  "Good  Lord,  are  these  my 
contemporaries?"  '  and  he  said,  'I  fled  and  took  refuge  in  the 
Porcellian  Club.' 

"He  told  me  that  he  had  been  trying  to  keep  up  his  reading 
of  philosophy.  .  .  .  He  said,  'You  know  I  can't  take  man 
quite  so  seriously  as  these  other  fellows  do.  It  seems  to  me  that 
he  can't  quite  occupy  the  attention  of  God  that  they  all  think  he 
does.  I  can't  believe  that  if  a  comet,  for  instance,  should  hit 
the  earth  and  knock  it  to  smithereens  that  it  would  make  such 
a  very  great  difference  to  the  universe.'  And  then  he  talked  of 
his  old  arguments  with  Josiah  Royce.  He  laughed  and  laughed 
over  them.  He  said  that  the  trouble  with  Royce  was  that  when- 
ever he,  Holmes,  got  him  cornered,  he  would  take  refuge  in 
saying,  'Well,  I  am  in  the  bosom  of  God' ;  while  Holmes  would 
reply,  'Nonsense,  you  are  just  in  a  rathole  that  I  have  cornered 
you  in.'  I  told  him  that  I  remembered  Royce  as  having  written 
a  book  entitled,  The  Religious  Aspect  of  Philosophy,  and  I 
heard  the  story  that  when  old  Professor  Shaler  met  Royce  the 
first  time  after  he  had  read  it  and  Royce  asked  him  how  he  had 
liked  the  book,  Shaler  said  that  it  had  the  wrong  title,  it  ought 


to  be  called,  The  Irreligious  Aspect  of  Philosophy.  .  .  .  Alto- 
gether we  had  a  wonderful  half-hour's  talk.  When  I  went 
away,  he  looked  at  my  riding  clothes  and  said,  'Good  Lord, 
how  I  envy  you.  You  know  I  never  rode  a  horse  except  during 
the  Civil  War  while  I  was  on  the  Staff,  and  I  had  to  ride 
then  for  the  sake  of  my  position.' 

"I  came  away  completely  cheered  up  with  my  horizon  all 
changed,  and  it  has  given  me  a  pretty  clear  idea  of  what  I 
needed,  which  is  a  little  more  recreation  and  change  from  the 
unvarying  attitude  of  grind  and  business  that  I  get  in  the  ad- 
ministration. How  I  wish  that  I  could  cheer  up  the  .  .  . 
President  and  make  him  feel  the  importance  of  a  little  bright- 
ness and  recreation  in  his  own  work.  But  after  all  I  suppose  he 
would  reply  and  say  that  he  gets  his  recreation  in  his  own  way, 
and  that  my  way  would  not  suit  him  at  all.  I  came  home  and 
had  dinner  with  Mabel.  .  .  .  We  spent  the  evening  reading 
together,  and  then,  for  the  first  time  in  some  days,  I  got  a 
good  long  night's  sleep." 

In  addition  to  differences  of  temperament,  there  were  major 
latent  differences  of  policy  between  Mr.  Hoover  and  Stimson. 
In  1929  and  1930  these  were  concealed ;  they  did  not  affect  the 
major  problems  of  those  years — in  Latin  American  affairs  and 
naval  limitation  the  two  men  were  almost  always  in  cordial 
and  complete  agreement.  But  in  the  later  years  nearly  every 
major  issue  produced  an  important  cleavage.  The  basic  differ- 
ence was  one  between  two  men  who  were  both  deeply  devoted 
to  peace,  but  in  such  opposite  ways  that  in  the  end,  when  the 
troubles  of  their  time  in  office  ripened  into  World  War  II, 
Stimson  was  one  of  the  earliest  and  most  ardent  advocates  of 
the  necessity  of  American  action  to  prevent  victory  by  the 
aggressor,  while  Mr.  Hoover,  until  Pearl  Harbor,  was  con- 
vinced that  the  United  States  could  and  should  remain  aloof. 
This  basic  difference  expressed  itself  in  many  forms;  it  was 
at  the  root  of  disagreements  over  war  debts,  the  Far  East, 
disarmament,  and  "foreign  entanglements." 

The  story  of  Stimson's  last  two  years  in  office  is  in  very 
large  degree  the  story  of  his  efforts  to  combine  loyalty  to  Mr. 
Hoover  with  the  advancement  of  policies  which  only  too  often 
went  against  the  grain  of  the  President's  deepest  convictions. 


In  every  case  of  direct  conflict,  Stimson  followed  Mr.  Hoover's 
wishes,  and  time  and  again  he  acted  as  public  advocate  for 
courses  which  his  own  fundamental  principles  could  hardly 
have  justified.  Occasionally  he  was  even  persuaded,  by  forces 
which  every  lawyer  loyal  to  his  clients  will  understand,  into 
a  genuine  belief  in  policies  that  later  seemed  to  him  insufficient 
and  even  wrong.  It  is  not  surprising  that  under  such  conflict- 
ing pressures  he  should  have  found  these  years  the  least  happy 
of  his  public  career. 

But  in  some  degree  these  differences  with  Mr.  Hoover  were 
merely  the  reflection  of  a  still  greater  difficulty — the  attitude 
of  the  people  of  the  United  States.  Often  the  President's  re- 
straining hand  was  the  result  less  of  his  personal  convictions 
than  of  his  necessary  awareness  of  the  state  of  public  opinion, 
to  which  as  an  elected  official  seeking  re-election  he  was  neces- 
sarily more  sensitive  than  Stimson,  just  as  in  his  preoccupation 
with  domestic  troubles  he  was  perhaps  less  struck  than  Stimson 
by  the  magnitude  of  the  world's  crisis.  Mr.  Hoover  was  a  non- 
interventionist  always,  but  he  was  never  a  full-blown  isolation- 
ist; this  could  not  be  said  of  public  opinion  in  America  in  the 
early  i93o's.  Stimson  often  repeated  in  later  years  a  remark 
made  to  him  by  Ogden  Mills  in  1932 — that  never  in  history 
had  the  American  people  been  so  profoundly  isolationist.  Not 
merely  were  they  thoroughly  disillusioned  about  Europe  and 
the  Europeans,  but  they  were  completely  occupied  by  pressing 
domestic  troubles  in  which  no  foreign  policy  'seemed  to  be 
important  or  even  relevant.  To  a  greater  degree  even  than  in 
1923,  when  George  Harvey  coined  the  phrase,  the  policy  of 
the  ordinary  American,  as  distinct  from  that  of  his  State  De- 
partment, was  "to  have  no  foreign  policy." 

It  was  on  such  a  people,  with  such  leaders,  that  the  storm  of 
world  catastrophe  broke  in  May,  1931,  when  a  bank  in  Austria 


This  book  is  clearly  not  the  place  for  a  detailed  analysis  of 
the  causes  of  the  world-wide  economic  depression  which  began 
in  1929  and  dominated  world  affairs  in  1931  and  1932.  A 


catastrophe  compounded  of  so  many  elements,  and  subject  to 
so  many  partisan  explanations,  cannot  be  analyzed  in  a  few 
pages — and  certainly  not  here.  Stimson  was  never  an  expert 
in  economics ;  he  took  his  advice  in  this  field  from  men  whose 
judgment  he  had  learned  to  trust,  and  he  almost  always  avoided 
categorical  conclusions  about  the  course  of  economic  affairs. 
His  diary  in  the  State  Department  years  is  crowded  with 
reports  of  what  other  men  thought  about  the  depression — what 
caused  it  and  how  long  it  would  last — but  it  contains  almost 
no  expression  of  definite  opinions  of  his  own. 

But  as  it  presented  itself  in  the  late  spring  and  summer  of 
1931,  the  international  depression  was  no  longer  merely  eco- 
nomic; it  had  begun  to  produce  results  which  were  of  major 
importance  politically.  It  is  usual  to  date  this  political  crisis 
from  the  collapse  of  the  Credit-Anstalt,  the  largest  bank  in 
Austria,  in  May,  1931.  In  the  European  financial  system  of 
the  time,  weakened  by  the  declining  capital  values  and  the 
increasingly  immobile  assets  characteristic  of  depressions,  the 
failure  of  the  Credit-Anstalt  was  the  blow  which  precipitated 
a  general  financial  panic.  Throughout  Central  Europe,  and 
particularly  in  Austria  and  Germany,  there  began  a  vast  inter- 
national run  on  the  banks.  Creditors  outside  these  countries. 

i  / 

fearful  of  a  total  loss  of  their  assets,  were  wholly  undeterred 
by  the  ordinary  measures  designed  to  restrict  such  credit  trans- 
actions. A  discount  rate  of  6  or  7  per  cent  was  negligible  when 
measured  against  the  threat  of  total  loss. 

Withdrawals  of  credit  from  Germany  began  in  May  and 
became  torrential  in  the  early  weeks  of  June.  It  was  apparent 
that  unless  something  was  done  quickly,  Germany  would  once 
more  slide  down  the  inclined  plane  of  inflation  to  financial 
ruin.  Such  an  event,  at  such  a  time,  would  have  had  the  most 
serious  effects  on  the  political  stability  of  Europe,  almost  cer- 
tainly producing  an  upheaval  within  Germany  and  a  repudi- 
ation or  indefinite  postponement  of  all  foreign  payments.  Even 
the  most  isolationist  of  Americans  could  not  view  such  a  pros- 
pect with  equanimity,  for  American  banks  and  financial  inter- 
ests throughout  the  country  were  heavily  involved  in  large 
credits  to  Germany  which  had  been  advanced  during  the  boom 


years ;  any  general  German  collapse  would  have  violent  eco- 
nomic repercussions  at  home,  and  not  on  banks  alone. 

It  was  in  these  circumstances  that  Mr.  Hoover,  on  June  20, 
announced  his  famous  plan  for  a  one-year  moratorium  on  all 
intergovernmental  debts.  The  immediate  purpose  of  this  pro- 
posal was  to  strengthen  Germany's  credit  position  by  relieving 
her  of  reparation  payments ;  its  broader  purpose  was  to  give 
the  whole  Western  world  a  "shot  in  the  arm."  It  was  the  bold- 
est and  most  constructive  step  taken  by  the  United  States  in 
its  dealings  with  Europe  since  1918.  Tragically,  it  was  not 
nearly  enough. 

Debts  between  governments  in  1931  were  of  two  major  kinds 
— both  resulting  from  the  First  World  War.  On  the  one  hand 
there  were  the  reparations  owed  by  Germany  to  the  victorious 
Allied  and  Associated  Powers ;  in  those  reparations  the  United 
States  had  refused  to  share.  The  amount  of  the  reparations 
and  the  time  schedule  of  their  payment  had  been  the  subject 
of  repeated  international  discussions  in  the  1920'$;  in  these 
discussions  a  notable  part  had  been  played  by  Americans  like 
Charles  G.  Dawes  and  Owen  D.  Young,  whose  names  had 
been  given  to  successive  plans  for  payment.  But  these  Amer- 
icans had  participated  solely  as  private  citizens ;  the  American 
Government  had  from  the  beginning  refused  to  take  any  of- 
ficial part  in  the  discussions  of  reparations.  So  strong  was  this 
feeling  that  one  of  Stimson's  first  official  actions  as  Secretary 
of  State  had  been  to  sign  and  send  off  a  message  written  by 
others  which  he  later  recognized  to  be  quite  ungracious  in  its 
expressions  of  the  danger  of  official  entanglement  in  Young's 
work.  It  was  American  policy  to  regard  reparations  almost  as 
"tainted  gold." 

The  other  half  of  the  burden  of  intergovernmental  debts 
was  regarded  by  the  United  States  in  a  wholly  different  light. 
The  "war  debts"  were  owed  mainly  by  Allied  nations  and 
mainly  to  the  United  States.  They  had  arisen  from  loans  made 
by  the  American  Government  after  its  entry  into  the  war,  and 
from  further  loans  made  for  reconstruction  in  the  immediate 
postwar  years.  The  total  amount  loaned  was  about  ten  billion 
dollars.  The  amount  of  these  debts  had  been  considerably  re- 
duced by  negotiations  between  1923  and  1926;  the  American 


Government,  adhering  to  its  view  that  all  war  debts  were 
normal  obligations  of  a  debtor  to  a  creditor,  had  negotiated 
settlements  based  on  the  "capacity  to  pay"  of  each  debtor  gov- 

In  addition  to  these  two  major  elements  in  the  structure  of 
intergovernmental  debts,  there  were  very  considerable  pay- 
ments due  to  Great  Britain  and  France,  who  had  been  bankers 
for  the  Allied  nations  before  the  American  entry  into  the  war 
and  middlemen  in  the  flow  of  credits  even  after  1917.  There 
were  other  smaller  debts  between  other  nations.  But  the  main 
current  of  international  payments  under  the  agreements  effec- 
tive in  1931  was  from  Germany  in  reparations  to  the  European 
Allies,  and  from  these  nations  in  debt  payments  to  the  United 
States.  In  June,  1931,  the  schedule  for  the  following  year 
involved  net  payments  by  Germany  of  something  under  four 
hundred  million  dollars.  Nearly  two-thirds  of  this  flow  of  pay- 
ments would  go  through  to  the  United  States  in  payments  of 
interest  and  principal  on  the  war  debts.  Two-thirds  of  the 
remainder  would  wind  up  in  France,  which  was  the  only 
other  substantial  net  creditor.  Economically,  the  significant 
course  of  intergovernmental  debt  payments  was  from  Germany 
to  the  United  States  and  France.  Other  nations  were  either 
insignificant  or,  as  in  the  case  of  Great  Britain,  merely  way- 
stations  on  the  road — the  British  would  receive  from  France 
and  Germany  almost  exactly  what  they  would  pay  to  the  United 

It  was  generally  agreed  in  international  financial  circles, 
in  the  spring  of  1931,  that  the  continuance  unaltered  of  repara- 
tion and  debt  payments  on  the  scheduled  scale  would  be  impos- 
sible. The  nations  were  thus  confronted  with  the  possibility 
of  a  repetition  of  the  political  crisis  of  1923,  when  German 
failure  to  make  reparation  payments  had  resulted  in  French 
occupation  of  the  Ruhr.  Or  alternatively,  if  the  Germans  did 
continue  to  make  such  payments  as  were  unconditionally 
required,  it  was  quite  likely  that  they  would  be  bankrupted. 
Nor  was  Germany  the  only  country  in  financial  difficulty. 
However  much  the  American  Government  might  insist  that 
reparations  and  war  debts  had  no  connection  with  each  other, 
no  nation  in  debt  to  the  United  States  was  likely  to  keep  up  its 


payments  if  the  compensating  flow  of  reparations  from  Ger- 
many should  cease.  A  general  default  of  intergovernmental 
debts  seriously  threatened.  Such  a  default  would  undermine 
every  tendency  toward  recovery  and  accentuate  every  force 
making  for  deeper  depression. 

The  plan  unfolded  by  President  Hoover  to  Stimson  and  to 
Mellon  and  Mills  of  the  Treasury  in  early  June  had  the  direct- 
ness and  simplicity  of  high  politics.  The  United  States,  as  the 
largest  creditor,  would  propose  a  holiday  on  all  payments  of 
intergovernmental'  debts.  The  debts  would  simply  be  forgotten 
for  a  year,  perhaps  two.  Stimson  listened  with  delight  while 
Mr.  Hoover  propounded  a  doctrine  which  he  had  always 
liked:  "It  involved  a  bold  emphatic  proposition  to  assume 
leadership  himself,  and  I,  myself,  felt  more  glad  than  I  could 
say  that  he  was  at  last  turning  that  way.  .  .  .  He  told  me  that 
he  always  believed  in  going  out  to  meet  a  situation  rather  than 
to  let  it  come.  .  .  .  Altogether  it  was  one  of  the  most  satis- 
factory talks  I  have  had  with  him  in  a  long  time."  (Diary, 
June  5,  1931) 

The  two  weeks  that  followed  were  among  the  most  crowded 
and  exciting  of  any  in  Stimson's  life.  "We  have  all  been  saying 
to  each  other  that  the  situation  is  quite  like  war."  (Diary,  June 
J5>  I93I)  The  front  was  in  Central  Europe,  and  with  each 
day  that  passed  the  news  was  worse  and  the  need  for  action 
more  apparent.  This  was  fortunate,  for  during  the  days  be- 
tween June  5  and  June  18  Mr.  Hoover  exhibited  every  day  his 
capacity  for  "seeing  the  dark  side."  Though  the  proposal  for 
a  moratorium  was  his  own,  and  its  eventual  execution  was  to 
be  his  personal  triumph,  he  daily  found  more  reasons  for 
expecting  failure  in  his  plan.  On  June  8  he  was  worried 
because  a  moratorium  might  appear  to  connect  war  debts  with 
reparations,  and  he  and  Stimson  had  an  argument  about  it, 
the  latter  urging  that  "even  legally,  in  domestic  law,  as  soon 
as  a  man  became  insolvent  he  and  his  creditors  could  not  make 
independent  arrangements  about  their  debts."  Mr.  Hoover 
believed  that  "we  could  never  explain  the  matter  to  our  own 
people  if  we  allowed  the  two  things  to  get  connected ;  that  it 
would  drag  us  into  the  European  mess  and  he  would  never 
consent  to  it.  ...  At  times  our  argument  got  quite  tense,  but 


finally  we  came  down  to  our  usual  terms  .  .  .  and  we  both 
agreed  to  think  further  over  it." 

In  the  following  days  other  fears  beset  the  President.  He 
seemed  receptive  to  pessimistic  estimates,  and  Stimson  was  able 
to  endure  the  gloomy  atmosphere  only  because  he  knew  that 
"the  responsibility  which  lay  on  the  President  was  terrible/' 
that  he  "was  following  his  usual  psychological  reaction  to  a 
proposition  like  this,"  and  that  "when  he  finally  does  make  up 
his  mind  and  does  act,  he  turns  to  it  with  great  courage." 

This  estimate,  written  on  June  13,  was  borne  out  in  what 
followed.  The  evening  of  June  18  was  the  gloomiest  of  all  at 
the  White  House.  Stimson  and  Mills  went  to  the  President 
to  make  a  final  presentation  of  the  case  for  a  moratorium. 
Mills  did  most  of  the  talking.  "The  President  was  tired  and 
...  he  went  through  all  the  blackest  surmises.  ...  It  was 
like  sitting  in  a  bath  of  ink  to  sit  in  his  room.  .  .  .  But  I  think 
he  is  moving  at  last." 

And  he  was.  That  same  evening  Mr.  Hoover  made  his  final 
decision,  secured  by  telephone  the  support  of  thirty  leading 
members  of  the  House  and  Senate,  and  on  the  following  morn- 
ing at  Cabinet  meeting  he  was  at  his  best,  active,  clear-sighted, 
and  full  of  new  strength. 

Now  it  was  time  for  Stimson  to  begin  his  major  diplomatic 
duty  in  connection  with  the  moratorium.  The  key  to  the  suc- 
cess of  the  scheme  was  the  attitude  of  the  French.  The  Amer- 
ican proposal  would  be  acceptable  in  America  only  if  it  covered 
all  intergovernmental  loans ;  the  American  concession  must 
therefore  be  matched  on  a  smaller  scale  by  the  French.  But 
Mr.  Hoover's  proposal  could  not  be  discussed  with  the  French 
until  he  had  reached  his  final  decision.  Stimson  had  worried 
Mr.  Hoover  by  discussing  the  possibility  of  an  American  move 
even  with  Ramsay  MacDonald  in  a  personal  telephone  con- 
versation. Nor  was  joint  action  with  France  any  part  of  the 
American  plan,  for  reparations  were  a  touchy  subject  among 
the  politicians  of  Paris;  they  might  not  readily  consent  to  a 
plan  which  departed  somewhat  from  the  Young  Plan,  and 
both  Mr.  Hoover  and  Stimson  were  certain  that  any  mora- 
torium would  lose  its  strength  and  psychological  value  if  sub- 


jected  to  diplomatic  bargaining  and  public  speculation  before 
it  was  announced  as  a  complete  and  definite  proposal. 

But  the  two  men  nevertheless  had  no  intention  of  taking  the 
French  by  surprise.  On  the  afternoon  of  June  19  Stimson 
explained  Mr.  Hoover's  plan  in  detail  to  the  French  Ambas- 
sador. The  American  decision  was  less  than  twenty-four  hours 
old.  In  view  of  the  later  French  attitude,  Ambassador 
ClaudePs  reaction  is  interesting.  "He  said  that  it  was  wonder- 
ful, that  he  had  no  idea  the  President  could  go  so  far."  (Diary, 
June  19,  1931)  He  further  promised  to  urge  his  Government 
to  support  the  plan. 

Unfortunately  the  timing  of  this  interview,  though  quick, 
was  not  quick  enough.  Mr.  Hoover's  hand  was  forced  by 
rumors  leaking  from  Congressmen,  and  he  had  to  make  a 
public  announcement  of  his  plan  before  the  French  had  had  a 
chance  to  digest  it.  On  June  20  the  proposal  was  announced 
from  the  White  House;  there  followed  a  rather  cautious 
French  response,  and  two  weeks  of  chilly  negotiations  were 
necessary  before  the  French  would  consent  to  give  up  the  "un- 
conditional" reparation  payments  of  the  Young  Plan. 

Stimson  and  Mr.  Hoover  were  criticized  in  some  circles  for 
this  untidy  aspect  of  a  proposal  which  in  every  other  respect 
was  a  remarkable  success.  Looking  back  at  it,  Stimson  could 
not  agree  that  the  fault  was  his  or  the  President's.  Even  if  the 
French  had  had  a  few  more  days'  notice,  he  did  not  believe 
that  they  would  have  been  more  cordial.  Only  prior  negotia- 
tion could  have  produced  that  result,  and  prior  negotiation  was 
impossible;  it  would  have  caused  still  more  financial  unrest 
in  Europe.  As  Ramsay  MacDonald  put  it  to  the  German 
Chancellor  in  early  June  and  to  Stimson  later  that  summer, 
consultation  about  the  moratorium  would  have  been  "fatal" 
to  the  financial  situation.  More  serious  still — and  this  was  the 
point  which  Mr.  Hoover  was  forced  to  bear  in  mind  as  he 
dealt  with  a  politically  hostile  Congress — negotiations  with 
France  would  have  given  free  rein  to  assertions  at  home  that 
Uncle  Sam  was  being  played  for  a  sucker,  and  the  general 
public  support  that  the  President  obtained  in  the  United  States 
by  making  his  proposal  unilaterally  American  would  have 


evaporated  in  a  heated  atmosphere  of  charge  and  counter- 

This  was  a  clear  instance  of  the  sort  of  international  problem 
which  Stimson  had  already  faced  in  his  work  for  naval  limi- 
tation and  was  to  meet  again  repeatedly  in  the  following 
months.  Time  after  time  the  issues  which  divided  the  states- 
men of  the  great  powers  were  those  on  which  they  themselves 
would  have  been  happy  to  reach  agreement — and  would  have 
found  agreement  easy — if  they  had  not  feared  a  hostile  verdict 
from  public  opinion  at  home.  The  leaders  of  France  were  fully 
aware  of  the  need  for  a  moratorium;  they  also  understood  the 
importance  of  quick  and  unanimous  agreement  on  a  plan.  But 
they  could  not  meet  Mr.  Hoover  openly  and  generously  lest 
they  appear  to  be  neglecting  issues  for  which  the  French  Army 
had  been  mobilized  only  eight  years  before.  That  the  French 
reaction  was  not  even  more  bitter  than  it  was  Stimson  attributed 
to  the  askill  and  force"  with  which  Premier  Pierre  Laval 
held  out  against  extremists,  but  even  Laval  was  not  publicly 
enthusiastic  about  the  moratorium.  What  the  French  Govern- 
ment won  for  France  in  the  two  weeks  of  negotiation  which 
followed  was  negligible  in  fact,  but  in  emotion  it  was  all- 
important;  by  their  truculence  the  French  leaders  aligned 
themselves  with  the  aggrieved  nationalism  of  their  people.  The 
constant  repetition  of  this  tragic  compulsion  to  follow  the  worse 
course  while  seeing  and  approving  the  better  was  to  bring 
eventual  downfall  to  all  the  efforts  of  the  postwar  statesmen. 

Stimson  felt  that  this  French  delay  in  accepting  Mr. 
Hoover's  proposal  was  a  matter  of  major  importance.  He  had 
pointed  out  to  Claudel  in  their  first  interview  that  everything 
depended  on  the  psychological  effect  of  the  plan ;  this  in  turn 
depended  on  prompt  and  generous-spirited  approval  from 
France,  as  the  second  of  creditor  nations.  The  initial  effect  of 
Mr.  Hoover's  announcement  was  electric ;  in  the  United  States, 
in  Great  Britain,  in  Germany,  the  people  took  hope  from  his 
boldness.  Withdrawals  of  credit  from  Germany  ceased;  men 
wrote  of  the  "turning  of  the  tide";  stock  prices  rose  on  the 
world's  exchanges.  But  when  no  friendly  voice  was  raised  in 
France,  spirits  sagged,  and  by  the  time  an  agreement  had  been 
haggled  out,  on  July  6,  the  first  flush  of  hope  had  begun  to 


pale.  Of  course  Stimson  could  not  make  the  French  solely 
responsible  for  this  unhappy  result;  there  were  financial  weak- 
nesses in  Germany  that  even  a  suspension  of  reparations  could 
not  wholly  eliminate.  But  to  say  that  the  French  attitude  was 
hardly  helpful  seemed  to  him  to  be  putting  it  mildly. 

The  moratorium  remained  in  Stimson's  view  one  of  the 
best  things  Mr.  Hoover  ever  did.  It  definitely  shut  off  the 
possibility  of  an  immediate  major  political  crisis  in  Germany. 
Time  was  provided  for  a  new  study  of  reparations,  and  it 
became  possible  to  apply  more  orthodox  financial  remedies 
to  the  crisis  in  Central  Europe.  If  the  moratorium  did  not 
stimulate  the  recovery  for  which  Stimson  had  hoped,  it  most 
certainly  prevented  an  immediate  and  desperate  breakdown. 
And  Stimson  particularly  liked  it  because  it  was  an  example 
of  the  bold  executive  leadership  which  he  considered  the  cen- 
tral requirement  of  effective  democratic  government.  Mr. 
Hoover  did  what  cautious  counsels  of  political  prudence  for- 
bade, and  by  so  doing  he  won  a  major  political  victory  at  home 
and  abroad. 

Yet  the  fact  remained  that  the  relief  afforded  by  the  mora- 
torium was  insufficient;  within  a  month  further  emergency 
measures  were  necessary  to  save  Germany.  The  causes  of  the 
world  depression  were  deeper  than  anything  governments 
were  equipped  to  handle,  and  the  pillars  of  orthodox  interna- 
tional economics  continued  to  collapse  one  by  one.  Perhaps  the 
most  shocking  single  event  was  the  departure  of  Great  Britain 
from  the  gold  standard  in  September,  but  this  was  only  one  of 
a  long  series  of  happenings  which  showed  clearly  that  the  eco- 
nomic structure  of  postwar  Europe  and  America  was  unsound. 
But  these  events  cannot  concern  us  here ;  we  must  return  to  the 
story  of  Stimson's  own  small  part  in  the  struggle. 

Long  before  the  crisis  which  led  to  the  moratorium  he  had 
made  plans  for  a  summer  expedition  to  Europe.  His  original 
purpose  was  to  familiarize  himself  with  the  leading  men  and 
problems  of  the  European  scene.  Before,  during,  and  after 
his  service  as  Secretary  of  State  he  remained  a  strong  believer 
in  the  value  of  personal  meetings  among  international  leaders. 
His  departure  was  briefly  delayed  by  the  hectic  work  sur- 


rounding  the  announcement  of  the  Hoover  moratorium,  but 
even  before  the  French  were  brought  into  line  he  was  on  his 
way,  acting  on  the  advice  of  Ramsay  MacDonald  and  others 
that  any  prolonged  delay  in  his  departure  would  give  cause 
for  pessimism  about  the  Franco-American  negotiations — and 
in  any  event  Mr.  Hoover  had  taken  personal  charge  of  the 
dealings  with  the  difficult  French. 

In  Italy,  his  first  stop,  Stimson  was  able  to  pursue  his  pur- 
pose of  discussing  the  general  problems  of  Europe,  but  when 
he  arrived  in  Paris  the  immediate  financial  crisis  of  Germany 
was  once  more  in  the  front  pages;  the  moratorium,  weakened 
by  French  delay,  had  not  succeeded  for  long  in  stopping 
private  creditors  from  withdrawing  their  German  assets.  He 
was  at  once  assigned  to  represent  his  country  in  a  full-dress 
international  meeting  organized  by  Mr.  Hoover.  This  meet- 
ing assembled  first  in  Paris  and  then  in  London  as  the  French 
displayed  astonishing  pettiness  about  the  time  and  place  at 
which  they  would  agree  to  help  Germany.  Although  the 
Hoover  moratorium  had  so  angered  the  French  that  Stimson 
was  pointedly  snubbed  on  his  arrival,  he  found  himself  able 
to  win  both  French  and  British  support  for  a  stand-still  agree- 
ment, under  which  the  governments  and  central  banks  of  the 
three  countries  agreed  to  throw  their  weight  against  further 
liquidation  of  short-term  credits  to  Germany.  This  negotia- 
tion, which  Stimson  always  considered  one  of  the  neatest  and 
most  successful  of  his  career,  served  to  end  the  immediate 
crisis.  The  problem  of  long-range  assistance  to  Germany  was 
turned  over  to  the  bankers.  It  was  a  characteristic  of  this 
period  that  the  fundamental  powers  of  international  trade 
and  finance  rested  less  with  governments  than  with  private 
interests  or  autonomous  central  banks.  This  was  particularly 
true  of  the  United  States,  and  if  it  had^not  been  for  the  con- 
stant and  intelligent  co-operation  which  he  received  from 
George  L.  Harrison  of  the  New  York  Federal  Reserve  Bank, 
Stimson  would  have  found  it  very  difficult  to  play  any  useful 
role  at  all  in  financial  matters.2 

2  Harrison  became  a  good  friend  in  this  period,  and  during  World  War  II  he  was 
one  of  Stimson's  ablest  associates,  advising  first  on  problems  of  wartime  finance  and 
later  on  the  uniquely  significant  question  posed  by  the  successful  development  of 
the  atom  bomb. 


His  experiences  in  working  out  the  stand-still  agreement, 
and  elsewhere  in  Europe  in  1931,  had  one  important  incidental 
result  for  Stimson.  They  taught  him  how  to  deal  with  the 
press.  From  the  very  beginning  of  his  term  he  had  found  press 
relations  difficult.  The  ordinary  State  Department  reporter 
of  the  time  seemed  to  him  irresponsible  and  often  untrust- 
worthy, and  at  the  London  Conference  he  had  been  greatly 
annoyed  by  the  zeal  with  which  reporters  for  newspapers 
hostile  to  naval  limitation  tried  to  embarrass  the  American 
delegation.  The  result  of  his  annoyance  had  been  a  stiff  atti- 
tude toward  all  newspapers,  and  the  result  of  this  in  turn  was 
that  he  received  a  very  bad  press.  This  bad  press  reached  a 
climax  in  July,  1931,  during  the  London  meeting  on  debts, 
when  Stimson  and  Castle  misunderstood  each  other  over  the 
transatlantic  telephone,  with  the  result  that  the  reporters  in 
Washington  and  London  received  two  different  accounts  of 
what  was  going  on.  In  the  face  of  an  outburst  of  anger  from 
the  American  reporters  in  London,  Stimson  made  a  clean 
breast  of  the  story  and  learned  at  once,  to  his  great  satisfaction, 
that  not  all  newspapermen  are  scoundrels.  The  top-notch 
correspondents  to  whom  he  thus  explained  the  background  of 
the  unfortunate  incident  proved  both  friendly  and  forgiving. 
This  experience  led  him,  on  his  return  to  Washington,  to 
institute  a  regular  weekly  press  meeting  at  Woodley  to  which 
he  invited,  not  the  journeymen  who  covered  his  Department 
for  routine  news,  but  the  senior  Washington  correspondents. 
These  men,  with  very  few  exceptions,  proved  trustworthy 
and  helpful  in  their  attitudes;  what  was  said  off  the  record 
stayed  off  the  record,  and  Stimson  found  himself  able  to  talk 
freely  on  the  basic  policies  and  purposes  which  surrounded 
his  day-to-day  actions. 

The  State  Department  is  never  likely  to  have  perfect  press 
relations;  it  is  in  the  difficult  position  of  always  having  a 
world-wide  audience  of  foreign  diplomats  who  weigh  its  every 
word.  Furthermore  it  must  often  frame  its  policy  slowly  and 
deliberately  while  pressing  issues  fill  the  headlines.  Later,  as 
Secretary  of  War,  Stimson  was  always  a  step  ahead  of  the 
press;  he  had  the  war  news  before  they  did.  In  the  State 
Department  this  situation  was  often  reversed ;  foreign  corre- 


spondents  could  break  their  stories  more  quickly,  if  less 
accurately,  than  foreign  service  officers  abroad.  But  the  Wood- 
ley  conferences  proved  a  great  help  in  1931  and  after;  from 
their  beginning  Stimson  dated  the  start  of  a  marked  improve- 
ment in  his  relation  with  the  press,  which  can  be  a  powerful 
assistant  to  policy,  as  well  as  a  -most  annoying  opponent. 


The  original  hope  of  Stimson  and  Mills  had  been  that  the 
Hoover  moratorium  might  extend  for  two  years,  and  if  they 
had  had  time  to  look  back  during  1932  and  1933,  they  would 
often  have  regretted  that  political  considerations  forced  the 
President  to  limit  his  proposal  to  one  year.  For  during  the 
last  year  of  the  Hoover  administration,  as  men  tried  to  frame 
a  policy  for  the  period  after  the  Hoover  year  expired,  the 
wretched  war  debts  became  an  apple  of  discord  in  personal, 
national,  and  international  affairs. 

The  beginnings  were  hopeful.  In  October,  1931,  President 
Hoover  and  Premier  Laval  of  France  agreed  that  during  the 
period  of  depression  further  adjustments  of  intergovernmental 
debts  might  be  necessary.  The  announcement  of  this  agree- 
ment was  applauded  in  Europe  as  proof  that  the  United  States 
was  prepared  to  recognize  the  connection  between  reparations 
and  debts.  The  Europeans  refused  to  be  discouraged,  either 
by  official  warning  that  the  Hoover-Laval  statement  referred 
only  to  emergency  depression  measures,  or  by  the  truculent 
reluctance  with  which  Congress  in  December  approved  the 
moratorium,  adding  to  its  approval  a  resolution  opposing 
any  reduction  or  cancellation  of  war  debts. 

In  June,  1932,  after  a  delay  caused  by  elections  in  France 
and  Germany  (the  French  swung  left  and  the  Germans 
ominously  right),  the  nations  concerned  with  reparations  met 
at  Lausanne,  Switzerland,  to  discuss  the  future  of  these  pay- 
ments. By  this  time  it  was  generally  agreed  that  Germany 
neither  could  nor  would  continue  reparations  payments  on 
anything  like  the  former  scale,  and  after  two  weeks  of  negotia- 
tion ably  led  by  Ramsay  MacDonald  (with  the  assistance  of 
Edouard  Herriot  of  France)  an  agreement  was  reached  which 


reduced  the  obligations  of  Germany  by  90  per  cent  and  ended 
all  strictly  "reparations"  payments  entirely.  It  was  a  typical 
irony  of  postwar  Europe  that  what  had  been  refused  to  the 
German  moderates  Stresemann  and  Bruening  should  now  be 
granted  to  the  nationalist,  Von  Papen,  but  in  this  case  the 
change  of  policy  was  an  accident  of  timing,  not  a  concession  to 
truculence.  In  any  event  the  settlement  of  Lausanne  was 
generally  regarded  in  Europe  as  a  splendid  step  forward,  for 
even  in  the  Allied  nations  reparations  had  come  to  be  regarded 
as  nothing  better  than  a  source  of  trouble. 

But  the  Lausanne  agreement  had  a  joker  in  it.  To  Euro- 
peans, overreading  the  Hoover-Laval  agreement  of  the  pre- 
vious October,  it  seemed  obvious  that  a  reduction  in  repa- 
rations must  be  accompanied  by  a  corresponding  reduction 
in  war  debts.  The  economic  arguments  against  reparations,  as 
a  permanent  barrier  to  thriving  trade,  applied  with  equal 
force  to  war  debts.  And,  of  course,  it  would  be  quite  impos- 
sible from  the  standpoint  of  internal  politics  to  give  up  repa- 
rations without  some  compensation  in  debt  reduction.  For 
this  reason  the  creditors  on  reparation  accounts  concluded  at 
Lausanne  a  gentlemen's  agreement  under  which  they  prom- 
ised each  other  not  to  ratify  the  Lausanne  reparation  settle- 
ment until  satisfactory  arrangements  had  been  made  by  all  of 
them  with  their  own  creditors,  meaning  of  course  the  United 

The  report  of  this  gentlemen's  agreement  leaked  out  un- 
officially, in  a  manner  very  badly  calculated  from  the  point 
of  view  of  its  effect  on  American  opinion.  It  looked  to  Amer- 
icans like  a  conspiracy  against  the  United  States.  News  of  the 
agreement  touched  off  a  discussion  between  Stimson  and  Mr. 
Hoover  which  showed  clearly  that  the  two  men  were  in  entire 
disagreement  on  the  whole  question  of  war  debts.  Stimson 
believed  that  the  Lausanne  settlement,  with  or  without  the 
gentlemen's  agreement,  "might  really  be  the  beginning  of  a 
recovery"  and  that  it  must  be  supported  by  the  United  States 
without  fear  or  rancor.  Mr.  Hoover  did  not  agree.  He  had 
proposed  his  moratorium  purely  as  a  depression  measure  and 
to  him  the  gentlemen's  agreement  looked  like  the  opening 
step  in  an  attempt  at  permanent  reduction  of  the  war  debts— 


which  indeed  it  was,  as  Stimson  was  quite  willing  to  grant. 
"He  told  me  that  he  entirely  differed  with  me,  in  funda- 
mentals, that  we  really  had  no  common  ground;  that  he 
thought  that  the  debts  to  us  could  and  should  be  paid;  and 
that  the  European  nations  were  all  in  an  iniquitous  combine 
against  us.  I  replied  that  if  he  felt  that  way  we  were  indeed 
on  such  different  ground  that  I  couldn't  give  him  much  good 
advice,  and  that  I  ought  not  to  be  his  adviser."  (Diary,  July 
ii,  1932)  When  the  steam  had  been  blown  off,  both  men 
recovered  their  good  humor,  but  the  difference  was  apparent. 
Mr.  Hoover  thought  the  war  debts  could  be  paid;  Stimson 
did  not.  The  particular  issue  at  this  meeting  was  whether  Mr. 
Hoover  should  make  a  statement  in  effect  denouncing  the 
gentlemen's  agreement.  After  three  days  of  debate  a  compro- 
mise solution  was  reached.  The  President  wrote  an  open 
letter  to  Senator  Borah  praising  the  reparation  settlement  but 
warning  that  the  United  States  would  not  yield  to  any  foreign 
combination  in  restraint  of  payments  on  the  war  debts.  Then 
the  question  was  dropped,  by  the  consent  of  all  concerned,  at 
home  and  abroad,  until  after  the  American  election  in  Novem- 
ber, when  it  reappeared  with  a  bang. 

The  Hoover  moratorium  had  expired  in  June.  In  December 
the  resumption  of  major  debt  payments  was  scheduled  to  begin. 
Through  the  summer  the  world  waited,  and  while  it  waited, 
opinion  hardened  on  both  sides  of  the  Atlantic.  Stimson  had 
noticed  evidence  during  the  Lausanne  meeting  of  the  degree 
to  which  British  and  French  opinion  misunderstood  the  Amer- 
ican attitude  toward  war  debts,  and  he  had  warned  the  British 
Ambassador  against  thinking  that  the  American  position 
could  be  stormed  by  a  fait  accompli.  But  he  had  not  been  able 
to  prevent  the  gentlemen's  agreement,  which  was  wholly 
natural  in  its  purpose  and  wholly  inflammatory  in  its  effect 
In  November  he  found  that  the  situation  had  grown  worse; 
the  people  of  Great  Britain  and  France  had  come  to  think 
of  the  war  debts  as  a  millstone  hung  around  their  necks 
by  the  shortsighted — and  self-destructive — greed  of  Uncle 
Shylock.  No  statesman  in  either  country  could  have  any  other 
public  purpose  than  cancellation.  Stimson  did  not  object  to 
this  purpose — by  this  time  he  was  himself  basically  a  "cancel- 


lationist" — but  the  tone  of  European  statements  and  opinion 
was  not  perfectly  calculated  to  win  support  from  the  American 

And  if  the  atmosphere  abroad  was  not  perfect,  the  feeling 
at  home  was  desperately  bad.  For  a  dozen  years,  in  accordance 
with  the  assertions  of  Democrats  and  Republicans  alike,  the 
American  people  had  been  convinced  that  war  debts  were  a 
moral  and  economic  obligation  as  binding  as  any  debt  in 
personal  affairs.  This  position  had  been  reasserted  by  both 
candidates  in  the  presidential  campaign.  The  American 
people,  and  still  more  the  American  Congress,  were  wholly 
unprepared  to  face  the  economic  facts  of  life;  only  among 
economists,  bankers,  and  confirmed  believers  in  international 
co-operation  was  there  any  important  sentiment  for  cancel- 
lation. Yet  this  small  group  had  been  joined  by  the  unpre- 
dictable individualist  Borah,  in  midsummer,  in  a  speech  which 
seemed  to  Stimson  "temperate,  brave,  and  well-balanced." 
"Of  course  he  is  cautious  about  some  things,  but  compared 
with  anyone  else  at  either  end  of  Pennsylvania  Avenue,  it  is 
magnificent."  (Diary,  July  24,  1932) 

Mr.  Hoover  was  no  cancellationist,  never  had  been,  and 
never  would  be.  More  than  that,  attempts  to  connect  debts 
with  reparations  except  in  time  of  economic  emergency  seemed 
to  him  wholly  wrong,  and  it  was  manifest  that  the  British  and 
French  intended  to  make  such  attempts.  Mr.  Hoover  pre- 
ferred to  connect  debts  with  disarmament,  arguing  that  instead 
of  welshing  on  their  legal  obligations  the  European  debtors 
should  make  some  effort  to  cut  the  burden  of  their  arma- 
ments. This  position,  though  eminently  logical  and  morally 
right  in  the  minds  of  many  Americans,  was  perfectly  designed 
to  annoy  the  Europeans. 

As  Stimson  saw  it,  Mr.  Hoover  might  be  on  strong  ground 
legally,  but  both  economically  and  politically  he  was  wrong. 
Economically,  the  payment  of  war  debts  had  been  a  most 
doubtful  blessing  to  the  United  States,  serving  merely  to  un- 
balance further  an  exchange  system  in  which  American  ex- 
ports were  being  strangled  by  American  hostility  to  imports, 
and  giving  rise  to  a  series  of  credit  operations  abroad  which 
were  of  the  most  unfortunate  character.  Intergovernmental 


debts  were  all  dominated  by  the  problem  of  transfer  of  pay- 
ments, a  question  almost  always  ignored  by  heated  opponents 
of  cancellation;  no  amount  of  disarmament,  for  example, 
seemed  likely  to  make  dollar  payments  very  much  easier.  In 
Stimson's  view,  the  economics  of  the  situation  were  plainly  in 
favor  of  cancellation.  It  would  certainly  have  a  considerable 
reviving  effect  on  world  trade,  and  even  a  very  small  gain 
of  this  sort  would  more  than  balance  the  payments  lost  by  the 
United  States. 

Politically  the  advantage  of  cancellation  was  even  greater — 
it  would  restore  an  atmosphere  of  good  feeling  and  confidence 
between  the  United  States  and  western  Europe,  and  this  at 
a  time  when  such  good  feeling  was  desperately  needed. 

The  student  of  Stimson's  public  activity  as  Secretary  of 
State  will  find  no  statement  of  this  position  in  the  records,  and 
many  at  least  obliquely  contradicting  it,  for  he  was  only  the 
agent  of  the  President  and  during  November  and  December 
he  executed  the  policy  laid  down  by  Mr.  Hoover.  The  diffi- 
culties of  this  position  he  described  in  a  diary  entry  on  Novem- 
ber 23.  "Of  course,  from  the  very  beginning  of  this  thing  I 
have  been  fighting  a  minority  battle.  I  can  see  all  the  benefits 
of  the  good  will  that  we  have  been  laboring  so  hard  for  the 
past  three  years  to  build  up  tumbling  in  fragments  around  us, 
and  I  have  been  trying  to  make  it  as  easy  as  possible  [for  the 
European  debtors].  But  my  zone  of  operations  has  been  a  very 
narrow  one,  for  the  President  has  been  perfectly  set  in  his 
policy,  and  all  that  I  have  been  able  to  do  is  to  try  to  smooth 
down  affairs  here  and  there  and  to  guide  the  thing  into  as  easy 
channels  as  possible.  On  that  point  Mills,  too,  has  been  against 
me.  He  sees  only  the  clear  mathematical  and  legal  relations 
of  the  two  nations,  and  he  has  been  fighting,  of  course,  for  his 
Treasury.  But  with  our  discussions  with  Great  Britain,  we 
have  to  depart  from  the  legal  situation  which  surrounds  a 
regular  loan.  The  whole  idea  of  taking  a  position  which  was 
taken  at  Lausanne  in  regard  to  reparations,  a  revision  of 
debts  which  would  bear  in  mind  and  help  the  economic  situ- 
ation, quite  apart  from  the  legal  situation,  has  been  excluded 
by  the  President's  position.  His  position  has  been  based  upon 
the  position  of  the  country  ever  since  1922,  and  probably  no 


other  position  was  tenable  in  view  of  the  attitude  of  Congress. 
But  there  is  another  side,  and  we  all  have  to  come  to  it  sooner 
or  later.  The  quicker  we  get  these  damn  debts  out  of  the  way 
in  some  settlement,  in  which  I  hope  we  may  be  able  to  get 
some  quid  pro  quo  for  our  concessions,  the  better  off  we  will 

Compared  to  Congress,  of  course,  Mr.  Hoover  was  a  model 
of  restraint  and  broad-mindedness,  and  in  dealing  with  Con- 
gressmen he  regularly  emphasized  the  genuine  difficulties  of 
foreign  nations.  Mr.  Hoover  was  also  quite  prepared  to  dis- 
cuss debt  revision  with  the  Europeans,  but  he  was  never  able 
to  put  aside  his  desire  to  state  and  restate  a  position  that  left 
little  room  for  negotiation — as  long  as  the  matter  was  con- 
sidered in  its  purely  legal  aspect,  there  could  be  no  "Lausanne 
settlement"  of  the  war  debts;  the  grounds  for  such  a  settle- 
ment were  not  in  law,  but  in  policy.  What  Stimson  wanted, 
and  what  Mr.  Hoover  refused,  was  bold  American  leadership 
to  get  the  "damn  debts"  out  of  the  way.  But  Mr.  Hoover 
refused,  not  because  he  feared  to  lead,  but  because  he  did  not 
agree  with  Stimson,  as  the  following  diary  entry  makes  clear. 
"I  cautioned  him  that  while  I  was  trying  to  get  all  the  quid 
pro  quo  for  the  debts  that  I  could,  I  didn't  expect  that  we 
were  going  to  save  much  of  the  debt.  Then  he  wanted  to  know 
if  I  knew  that  I  was  ten  millions  of  miles  away  from  his 
position.  He  believed  that  debts  were  merely  a  chip  on  the 
current  of  ordinary  prosperity.  This  discouraged  me  a  good 
deal.  I  am  not  an  economist,  but  I  know  mighty  well  that  if 
the  nations  that  were  receiving  reparations  could  not  hold 
them,  we  shall  not  be  able  to  save  much  of  our  debts.  .  .  .  When 
I  see  France,  who  has  a  large  stake  in  Europe  and  who  is 
right  next  to  Germany,  give  up  her  war  reparations  to  an 
extent  per  capita  nearly  equivalent  to  our  war  debts  ...  in 
spite  of  all  the  feeling  in  France  arising  out  of  the  war  on 
behalf  of  those  reparations,  and  in  spite  of  the  fact  that  she 
has  the  right  to  invade  Germany  to  save  them,  it  seems  pre- 
posterous to  think  that  we  should  be  able  to  keep  our  debts 
when  we  are  three  thousand  miles  away  from  them  and  with- 
out an  army  and  have  no  intention  or  desire  to  have  a  war 


quarrel  with  either  France  or  Britain."   (Diary,  December 

4,  J932) 

So  Stimson  continued  in  his  small  minority,  with  the  friendly 
company  of  Borah  and  the  bankers  and  economists.  And  he 
continued  to  play  his  role  in  the  singularly  complex  negotia- 
tions which  preceded  the  debt-payment  deadline  on  Decem- 
ber 15.  It  was  a  hectic  period,  and  there  were  diplomatic 
errors  on  all  sides — Stimson  made  one  when  he  softened  a 
note  to  Great  Britain  while  leaving  a  similar  note  to  France 
in  its  original  stiff  form.  There  were  reasons  for  the  mistake, 
and  good  ones,  but  it  was  nevertheless,  as  the  diary  remarked, 
"unworkmanlike."  The  debts  were  too  touchy  a  subject  for 
such  errors  to  be  cheap,  and  yet  it  was  their  very  touchiness 
that  made  errors  difficult  to  avoid.  Matters  were  not  simplified, 
of  course,  by  the  fact  that  Mr.  Hoover  was  now  a  lameduck 
President,  and  President-elect  Franklin  Roosevelt  seemed  less 
co-operative  to  administration  leaders  than  he  seemed  to  him- 
self. The  President  was  powerless  to  suspend  the  payments,  as 
requested  by  the  debtor  nations,  and  unwilling  to  recommend 
suspension  to  a  hostile  Congress;  Mr.  Roosevelt  held  aloof. 
Matters  slid  toward  an  impasse  of  default  from  Europe  and 
public  resentment  at  home.  Then  surprisingly,  on  December 
15  the  British  courageously  paid  in  full  what  they  owed,  and 
so  did  several  other  nations,  following  their  lead.  But  the 
French  defaulted,  and  they  had  company.  To  Stimson's  deep 
regret,  no  voice  had  been  raised  by  the  administration  to 
soften  the  official  attitude  of  America  or  to  battle  the  illogical 
sentiment  of  a  nationalistic  people.  Looking  across  the  Atlantic 
he  found  in  Edouard  Herriot  the  real  hero  of  the  episode. 
For  Herriot,  the  French  Premier,  had  dared  to  oppose  his 
people  in  the  interests  of  international  understanding.  "He 
insisted  upon  payment  in  the  face  of  the  most  terribly  opposed 
public  opinion  and  a  very  adverse  Parliament.  They  finally 
voted  it  down  and  him  out  of  office.  But  he  is  much  bigger 
today  than  anyone  on  our  side  of  the  Atlantic."  (Diary, 
December  15,  1932) 

The  Hoover  administration's  direct  activity  on  debts  was 
wound  up  on  December  19  by  a  final  statement  from  the 
President.  Stimson  worked  closely  with  Mr.  Hoover  on  this 


message,  and  the  pressure  had  sufficiently  lightened  so  that 
the  President  could  joke  about  his  friend  the  Secretary  of 
State  as  "our  friend  who  was  for  protecting  every  country 
but  his  own."  For  his  part  Stimson  was  delighted  to  see  Mr. 
Hoover  in  good  cheer,  and  he  felt  that  the  message  to  Congress 
was  a  good  one;  although  it  repeated  views  Stimson  did  not 
share,  it  was  frank  and  explicit  in  recommending  early  and 
fair-minded  negotiation  with  the  debtor  nations.  Here  the 
matter  ended,  except  for  further  efforts  to  help  the  President- 
elect which  at  last  resulted  in  a  joint  communique  on  January 
20>  X933>  to  the  effect  that  Mr.  Roosevelt  would  be  glad  to 
talk  with  a  British  representative  as  soon  as  he  was  President. 

The  later  history  of  the  war  debts  is  briefly  told.  In  June, 
1933,  no  further  agreement  having  been  reached,  the  British 
and  several  other  countries  made  a  "token"  payment  which 
temporarily  satisfied  opinion  in  both  countries;  France  and 
most  of  her  friends  continued  to  default.  In  December,  1933, 
the  same  process  was  repeated.  Desultory  discussions  between 
the  new  administration  and  the  debtors  revealed  no  basis  for 
agreement,  and  in  1934  the  United  States  Congress  passed 
and  Mr.  Roosevelt  signed  the  Johnson  Act,  which  ended  token 
payments  as  a  device  for  avoiding  default  and  banned  loan 
flotations  by  all  defaulting  countries.  Except  from  Finland,  no 
further  war-debt  payments  of  any  kind  were  ever  received. 
The  history  of  the  war  debts  thus  ended  in  mutual  ill  will 
between  the  United  States  and  her  debtors. 

And  as  he  looked  back  in  1947,  it  was  the  very  existence 
of  the  war  debts,  and  not  any  later  error  in  dealing  with  them, 
that  seemed  to  Stimson  to  have  been  fatal. 

Supposing  that  Mr.  Hoover  had  believed  with  Stimson  in 
quick  cancellation,  and  supposing  that  he  had  chosen  to  fight 
on  that  ground,  probably  little  but  glory  could  have  been 
won,  for  Congress  would  almost  surely  have  blocked  the 
effort — it  was  probably  too  late,  in  November,  1932,  to  educate 
the  American  people.  Even  Franklin  Roosevelt,  who  was 
almost  surely  in  agreement  with  Stimson,  and  politically  much 
stronger  than  Mr.  Hoover,  never  chose  to  fight  for  reduction 
of  the  war  debts. 

The  original  and  fatal  error,  as  Stimson  saw  it,  was  the 


notion  that  huge,  interest-bearing  loans  made  in  emergency 
conditions  for  emergency  purposes  could  ever  be  repaid  by 
one  government  to  another.  It  simply  could  not  be  done, 
politically.  And  when  to  the  political  difficulty  there  was 
added  the  peculiar  tariff  policy  of  the  American  nation,  the 
assurance  of  default  became  doubly  sure.  Debts  incurred  in 
a  common  struggle  will  never  be  repaid  to  a  country  which 
hates  imports.  And  any  pretense  that  they  will  be  so  paid  can 
only  be  a  source  of  mutual  ill  will,  increasing  by  compound 
interest  at  a  very  high  rate  against  a  later  reckoning.  Stimson 
saw  personally  the  poison  spread  by  the  debt  question  in  1932 
and  it  made  him  a  lasting  enemy  to  any  repetition  of  the 
financing  error  of  World  War  I.  In  the  early  twenties  he  had 
taken  the  orthodox  view  that  the  debts  could  and  should  be 
paid  like  any  other  financial  obligation.  He  had  had  to  learn 
by  experience,  but  the  experience  was  a  searing  one. 

It  was  because  the  learning  was  so  bitter  that  he  felt  the 
story  worth  retelling  in  1947.  For  in  that  year  the  American 
people  were  once  more  forced  to  face  the  necessity  of  advanc- 
ing funds  to  their  European  neighbors.  The  creation  of  "war 
debts"  had  been  avoided  during  World  War  II  by  the  wonder- 
ful engine  of  Lend-Lease,  but  in  the  postwar  period  there 
seemed  to  be  a  return  to  the  idea  of  loans,  on  the  theory  that 
money  advanced  after  victory  should  properly  be  repaid.  A 
glance  at  the  experience  after  World  War  I  confirmed  Stim- 
son in  his  view  that  this  distinction  was  dangerous  nonsense. 
In  very  large  part  the  "war  debts"  rancorously  repudiated 
after  1931  were  debts  arising  from  postwar  "reconstruction." 
From  any  practical  standpoint  there  was  no  distinction  be- 
tween money  used  to  fight  a  war  and  money  used  to  recover 
from  its  worst  ravages.  However  impolitic  it  might  be  to 
say  it,  Stimson  was  wholly  convinced  in  1947  that,  if  the 
United  States  wished  to  avoid  later  bitter  disillusionment,  it 
must  make  its  advances  to  Europe  for  postwar  reconstruction 
with  the  same  free  hand  and  the  same  absence  of  demand  for 
repayment  that  characterized  the  wartime  operations  of  Lend- 
Lease.  America's  reward  must  be  in  world  recovery,  and  not 
in  small  debt  payments  grinding  to  an  embittering  halt  after 
ten  or  twenty  years. 


The  Far  Eastern  Crisis 


ON  THE  night  of  September  18,  1931,  military  forces  of 
the  Japanese  Empire  occupied  strategic  cities  and  towns 
in  South  Manchuria.  In  the  eighteen  months  that  followed, 
the  heaviest  and  most  important  burden  of  the  American  Sec- 
retary of  State  was  the  handling  of  the  resulting  international 
crisis.  This  was  the  beginning  of  what  the  Japanese  chose  to 
call  "the  Manchurian  Incident";  to  Stimson  it  was  always 
something  more.  In  the  title  of  a  book  written  in  1936  he  called 
it  The  Far  Eastern  Crisis]  this  book,  published  by  Harper 
for  the  Council  on  Foreign  Relations,  contains  a  more  de- 
tailed record  of  Stimson's  part  in  the  affair  than  can  be  given 
here.  The  account  in  this  chapter  is  designed  to  present  the 
facts  merely  in  outline;  its  conclusions  will  be  modified  from 
those  of  the  earlier  book  as  1947  is  different  from  1936.  What 
required  circumspection  then  can  be  discussed  more  freely 
now;  what  was  an  unfinished  history  ten  years  ago  is  now  a 
played-out  tragedy. 

The  Japanese  militarists  who  planned  and  executed  the 
Manchurian  operations  of  September,  1931,  will  probably  be 
regarded  by  history  as  the  first  active  aggressors  of  World 
War  II.  There  is  a  direct  and  significant  interconnection  be- 
tween their  actions  and  those  others,  in  Ethiopia,  the  Rhine- 
land,  Spain,  China,  Austria,  Czechoslovakia,  and  Albania, 
which  culminated  in  general  war  in  Europe.  And  it  needs  no 
argument  to  show  that  the  vast  struggle  in  the  Pacific  which 
broke  out  at  Pearl  Harbor  on  December  7,  1941,  was  merely 
the  logical  result  of  the  events  which  began  in  Manchuria. 


The  road  to  World  War  II  is  now  clearly  visible ;  it  has  run  its 
terrible  course  from  the  railway  tracks  near  Mukden  to  the 
operations  of  two  bombers  over  Hiroshima  and  Nagasaki. 

It  was  in  this  focus  that  Stimson  reconsidered,  in  1947,  his 
part  in  the  Manchurian  affair.  Whatever  he  had  done  in  that 
connection,  and  whatever  others  had  done,  must  now  be 
studied  as  part  of  a  long  sequence  of  events  which  had  ended 
in  a  great  war. 

Though  it  was  a  minor  episode  compared  to  the  events 
which  followed  it,  the  Far  Eastern  crisis  of  1931-1933  pre- 
sented as  complex  a  problem  to  peace-loving  statesmen  as 
anything  that  happened  later  on  the  road  to  world-wide  war. 
As  the  first  attempt  to  deal  with  aggression,  it  had  perhaps  a 
special  significance;  it  certainly  presented  special  difficulties. 
To  Stimson,  in  1947,  the  Manchurian  affair  was  no  longer  of 
very  great  interest  in  itself.  But  as  a  lesson  in  world  politics 
it  remained  an  extraordinarily  instructive  story.  It  was  not  a 
story  with  a  simple  moral;  indeed,  one  reason  for  Stimson  in 
particular  to  reconsider  the  case  was  that  in  the  years  after 
1933  there  had  grown  up  among  many  Americans  a  legend 
that  if  he  had  not  been  blocked  by  the  wicked  British,  Stimson 
would  easily  have  brought  the  wicked  Japanese  to  terms  by 
bold  and  energetic  action  in  1932.  It  was  not  as  simple  as  that. 

The  situation  precipitated  by  Japanese  military  action  in 
September,  1931,  had  a  history  behind  it  only  less  complex 
than  the  history  to  which  it  opened  the  door.  Manchuria  was 
an  area  in  which  for  half  a  century  the  interests  of  three  major 
nations  had  been  in  conflict,  and  by  1931  the  intentions  and 
aspirations  of  two  of  these  nations  had  so  far  developed  in 
mutual  opposition  that  military  operations  were  a  painfully 
natural  development. 

Shortly  stated,  the  issue  in  Manchuria  was  between  the  Chi- 
nese aspiration  toward  complete  national  independence  and 
the  Japanese  conviction  that  security  of  basic  Japanese  inter- 
ests required  the  maintenance  of  extensive  economic  and  polit- 
ical rights  in  Manchuria.  To  a  certain  degree — and  it  is 
impossible  to  be  more  precise — special  Japanese  rights  in 
Manchuria  were  sanctified  by  treaty.  Since  the  Treaties  of 
Portsmouth  and  Peking,  of  1905,  China  had  recognized  cer- 


tain  rights  of  the  Japanese  as  successors  to  czarist  Russia  in 
South  Manchuria.  Exactly  what  these  rights  involved  in  prac- 
tice, and  how  far  they  were  extended  by  later  agreements, 
were  matters  of  dispute  long  before  1931.  It  was  still  less  clear 
how  their  existence  could  be  permanently  reconciled  with  the 
universally  recognized  juridical  sovereignty  of  China  through- 
out Manchuria.  And  the  steady  increase  of  Chinese  national- 
ism, extending  itself  into  Manchuria  during  the  1 920*5,  made 
these  questions  constantly  more  urgent.  During  the  first  three 
decades  of  the  twentieth  century,  some  thirty  millions  of  Chi- 
nese poured  northward  into  Manchuria,  where  they  continued 
to  think  of  themselves  as  Chinese  in  Chinese  territory.  The 
few  hundred  thousand  Japanese  in  the  area  were  a  mere  hand- 
ful, sufficient  only  to  act  as  a  continual  goad  to  rising  Chinese 

But  the  years  before  1931  saw  no  change  whatever  in  the 
determination  of  the  Japanese  to  maintain  the  special  position 
in  Manchuria  for  which  they  had  so  greatly  sacrificed  in  their 
war  against  Russia  in  1904-1905.  Around  the  Japanese-owned 
railways,  and  other  material  holdings,  there  had  grown  up  a 
cluster  of  "vital  interests,"  partly  strategic  and  partly  eco- 
nomic— all  the  more  important  for  the  difficulty  of  defining 
them — and  the  whole  had  become  embedded  in  the  national 
consciousness  of  a  people  singularly  sensitive  to  considerations 
of  imperial  pride  and  place. 

Thus  far  the  Japanese  people  were  united.  A  peculiar  and 
vitally  important  Japanese  interest  existed  in  Manchuria.  But 
from  1905  onward  there  was  "a  very  deep  and  fundamental 
cleavage  in  Japanese  political  thought  as  to  the  method  by 
which  that  interest  should  be  supported  and  enforced."1  It 
was  this  cleavage  which  dominated  Stimson's  early  thinking 
about  the  Manchurian  crisis,  and  the  success  with  which  one 
side  forced  its  own  solution  is  the  primary  active  cause  for  the 
decline  and  fall  of  the  peace  of  the  Pacific.  Determined  aggres- 
sion will  always  result  in  war.  We  have  therefore  to  consider 
more  closely  the  nature  of  the  Japanese  problem. 

Emerging  from  feudal  isolation  in  the  middle  of  the  nine- 
teenth century,  Japan  had  with  astonishing  swiftness  adopted 

1  Far  Eastern  Crisis,  p.  27. 


many  of  the  economic  and  political  customs  of  the  West.  She 
had  developed  a  dynamic  and  expanding  capitalist  economy; 
with  it  she  had  so  far  shifted  her  methods  of  government  that 
the  Japanese  could  show  political  institutions  to  parallel  most 
of  those  of  the  Western  democracies — the  legislative  assembly, 
the  responsible  Cabinet,  the  diplomat  in  Western  clothes 
speaking  the  Western  idiom.  The  westernized  Japanese,  cap- 
italist, engineer,  politician,  or  educator,  was  received  as  a 
colleague  and  an  equal  by  his  fellows  in  Europe  and  the 
United  States. 

But  the  westernization  of  Japan  was  only  partial ;  it  did  not 
wholly  supplant  the  ancient  ways.  There  remained  an  Emperor 
whose  person  was  deified  and  whose  final  authority  was  never 
openly  denied ;  if  he  was  in  many  ways  a  constitutional  mon- 
arch, that  was  not  by  any  constitution  but  by  his  divine,  and 
flexible,  choice.  Nor  were  his  ministers  fully  masters  in  his 
house,  for  military  leaders  retained  their  right  of  direct  access 
to  the  Emperor,  and  many  a  Japanese  officer  considered  that 
no  delegation  of  responsibility  and  initiative  to  the  Prime 
Minister  exceeded  that  implicitly  granted  to  the  Emperor's 
loyal  generals  and  admirals.  Nor  did  these  men  admit  that 
their  differences  with  the  civilian  elements  must  be  settled  by 
any  appeal  to  an  electorate.  Neither  side,  indeed,  was  basically 
democratic;  the  instinct  for  authority  remained  almost  un- 
weakened,  and  the  contest  for  power  in  Japan  was  between 
rival  groups  of  leaders  near  the  throne.  And  the  soldier  re- 
tained the  prestige  of  seven  centuries  of  power,  so  that  only  the 
most  liberal  and  outspoken  ever  openly  attacked  "the  military 

In  dealing  with  Manchuria,  all  Japanese  insisted  on  the 
maintenance  of  special  privileges.  The  cleavage  was  between 
two  lines  of  policy  which  bore  the  euphemistic  names  of 
"friendship"'  and  "positive."  The  "friendship"  policy,  while 
renouncing  none  of  the  contractual  rights  maintained  by  the 
Japanese,  aimed  at  a  pacific  settlement  with  China ;  its  great 
exponent,  Baron  Shidehara,  was  less  interested  in  the  military 
position  of  Japan  in  Manchuria  than  in  the  sound  develop- 
ment of  Japanese  economic  interests  in  that  area.  Shidehara 
was  Foreign  Minister  in  1931. 


The  "positive"  policy,  on  the  other  hand,  rested  ultimately 
on  force,  and  it  was  not  limited  by  merely  economic  objectives. 
To  Baron  Tanaka,  for  example,  the  development  of  Japanese 
hegemony  in  Manchuria  was  only  a  stage  in  the  indefinite  ex- 
pansion of  the  new  Japanese  Empire;  advocates  of  the  "posi- 
tive" policy  were  outspoken  in  their  assertion  that  Japanese 
rights  in  Manchuria  must  be  forcefully  maintained. 

In  the  perspective  of  1947  it  is  easy  to  argue  that  in  the  con- 
test for  power  in  Japan  decisive  authority  always  rested  with 
the  militarists  and  that  any  less  aggressive  attitude  was  merely 
a  passing  phase.  The  emotions  generated  in  the  struggle  to  de- 
feat Japan  are  still  in  the  foreground,  and  the  peculiar  hostil- 
ity felt  by  Americans  for  the  Japanese  enemy  has  not  yet 
wholly  disappeared.  But  no  judgment  of  Japan  can  be  based 
entirely  on  the  events  from  1931  to  1945,  terrible  as  they  are; 
to  assume  that  militarism  was  always  dominant  in  modern 
Japan  is  to  be  left  with  no  explanation  for  the  remarkably  re- 
strained behavior  of  the  Japanese  Government  in  the  1920*8. 

The  contest  for  power  between  the  militarists  and  the  mod- 
erates was  constant  in  twentieth-century  Japan.  In  the  waging 
of  the  Russian  war  of  1904  the  military  were  dominant.  In 
reviving  a  country  almost  prostrated  by  that  contest  the  mod- 
erates took  the  lead.  The  expansion  of  Japan  during  the  First 
World  War  was  largely  military  in  its  origins.  When  the  mil- 
itarists were  in  some  degree  discredited  by  the  failure  of  their 
aggressive  ventures  between  1915  and  1922,  the  moderates 
took  control.  The  general  Far  Eastern  settlement  of  1922,  em- 
bodied in  treaties  and  agreements  signed  at  Washington,  was 
a  model  of  friendly  conciliation  and  was  accompanied  by  acts 
of  withdrawal  by  Japan  which  no  militaristic  government 
would  have  permitted.  During  the  decade  before  September 
1 8,  1931,  Japanese  foreign  policy  was  restrained  and  peace- 
able. "Instead  of  seeking  markets  by  force,  she  had  been  fol- 
lowing the  entirely  opposite  plan  of  'commercial  expansion 
and  political  good  neighborliness.'  .  .  .  She  had  followed  this 
course  patiently  and  in  the  face  of  considerable  difficulty  and 
provocation."  As  late  as  1930,  against  the  violent  objection  of 
the  military  party,  the  Japanese  Government  had  ratified  the 
London  Naval  Treaty.  But  it  was  perhaps  significant  of  the 


rising  tension  in  Japan  that  this  success  was  followed  by  the 
assassination  of  the  senior  responsible  moderate  statesman, 
Premier  Hamaguchi. 

What  happened  in  September,  1931,  was  that  the  military 
party,  acting  on  its  own  initiative,  undertook  to  reverse  the 
"friendship"  policy,  aiming  not  merely  at  a  "positive"  solu- 
tion of  the  Manchurian  problem  but  at  a  complete  reorienta- 
tion  of  Japanese  foreign  policy,  away  from  the  conciliatory 
methods  and  economic  objectives  of  Shidehara,  toward  a  pro- 
gram of  active  imperialism.  The  full  explanation  of  this  deci- 
sion has  not  yet  been  written,  but  elements  of  its  causes  were 
clear  even  in  1931.  The  situation  in  Manchuria,  so  full  of 
long-term  dangers  to  the  Japanese,  had  become  inflamed  as  a 
result  of  anti-Korean  demonstrations  by  the  Chinese,  and  still 
more  by  the  murder  of  a  Japanese  Army  officer  by  Chinese 
soldiers.  There  was  thus  in  Japan,  partly  natural  and  partly 
manufactured,  a  strong  public  sentiment  for  firm  action.  Nor 
had  the  Chinese,  in  negotiations  with  Baron  Shidehara  over 
the  vexed  issue  of  railway  development,  shown  any  desire  to 
accommodate  even  the  moderate  Japanese. 

At  the  same  time,  in  the  much  broader  field  of  foreign  com- 
merce as  a  whole,  the  policy  of  Shidehara  was  being  discred- 
ited by  the  brutal  fact  of  the  world  depression.  Between  1929 
and  1931  Japanese  foreign  trade,  an  item  of  primary  impor- 
tance in  Japanese  economy,  was  cut  in  half.  And  Japanese 
commercial  enterprise  was  meeting  such  new  and  powerful 
obstacles  as  the  American  Hawley-Smoot  tariff.  As  other  na- 
tions attempted  to  escape  from  the  depression  by  limiting  their 
markets,  Japanese  opinion  naturally  shifted  away  from  its 
earlier  acceptance  of  a  policy  of  peaceful  trade.  And  the  al- 
ternative eagerly  and  persuasively  offered  by  a  strong  and 
active  party  was  that  of  forceful  expansion.  The  first  step 
taken  by  the  military  was  to  present  the  Japanese  people,  and 
the  world,  with  a  fait  accompli  in  South  Manchuria. 

This  Japanese  demarche,  if  it  had  occurred  two  generations 
earlier,  would  have  had  relatively  little  meaning  for  the 
United  States.  But  in  the  forty  years  before  1931  the  United 
States  had  become  a  world  power,  and  in  the  Far  East  both 
her  commercial  and  her  political  interests  were  considerable. 


Toward  Japan  the  United  States  had  always  been  friendly, 
although  in  both  nations  there  were  groups  who  argued  that 
the  two  peoples  were  natural  enemies;  toward  China,  the 
Americans  had  assumed  a  position  of  unusual  importance.  In 
a  spirit  of  what  Stimson  called  farsighted  self-interest,  the 
United  States  had  been  the  leader  in  developing  the  principle 
of  the  Open  Door  in  China,  under  which  it  was  agreed  that 
the  territorial  integrity  of  China,  and  free  access  of  commerce, 
were  to  be  respected  by  all  nations.  The  principle  of  the  Open 
Door  had  been  enlarged  and  made  law  in  the  Nine-Power 
Treaty  signed  as  part  of  the  Washington  settlement  of  1922. 
The  signatories  of  that  treaty  included  the  United  States, 
Japan,  Great  Britain,  and  all  the  other  major  nations  holding 
territory  in  the  Pacific  except  Soviet  Russia.  And  in  addition 
to  this  formal  interest  in  the  integrity  of  China,  there  had  de- 
veloped by  1931  an  extensive  interconnection  between  Ameri- 
cans and  China  in  the  form  of  missionary  and  educational 
undertaking.  China  was  an  important  friend  of  the  United 

And  above  and  beyond  any  specific  local  interest  of  the 
United  States  in  Manchuria  there  was  in  1931  another  major 
American  concern  which  was  bound  to  be  seriously  affected 
by  the  Japanese  advance.  This  was  the  American  interest  in 
world  peace,  formalized  in  the  Kellogg-Briand  Pact,  to  which 
China,  Japan,  the  United  States,  and  every  other  major  nation 
had  adhered.  The  peace  of  1931  was  a  peace  based  on  treaties; 
the  central  treaty  was  the  treaty  renouncing  war,  and  in  the 
world  of  1931  it  was  no  longer  possible  for  any  country  to  pre- 
tend that  war  abroad  had  no  meaning  at  home. 

So  the  United  States  was  interested  when  Japanese  troops 
moved  out  of  their  railway  zone  on  the  night  of  September  18. 


The  first  requirement  of  the  American  Government  as  it 
considered  the  situation  in  Manchuria  on  September  19  and 
after  was  facts.  Accurate  information  is  the  raw  material  of 
policy.  It  was  therefore  fortunate  that  the  representatives  of 
the  United  States  in  the  Far  East  during  this  period,  and  par- 


ticularly  the  men  who  were  in  or  near  Manchuria,  were  un- 
usually competent.  Throughout  the  crisis  Stimson  and  his 
State  Department  advisers  "were  habitually  placed  in  the  po- 
sition of  having  in  our  hands  earlier  and  more  accurate  infor- 
mation than  almost  any  other  country."2 

Reports  from  the  Far  East  quickly  made  it  clear  that  the 
Japanese  movement  in  Manchuria  was  essentially  an  act  of 
aggression,  and  that  insofar  as  it  represented  the  deliberate 
action  of  the  Japanese  Government  it  was  a  flagrant  violation 
of  the  Kellogg  Pact,  the  Nine-Power  Treaty,  and  the  Cove- 
nant of  the  League  of  Nations.  As  Stimson  put  it  on  Septem- 
ber 22,  "It  is  apparent  that  the  Japanese  military  have  initi- 
ated a  widely  extended  movement  of  aggression  only  after 
careful  preparation  with  a  strategic  goal  in  mind." 

This  was  the  fact;  but  it  was  a  fact  with  a  double  meaning. 
As  an  act  of  aggression,  it  was  a  most  serious  attack  on  the  en- 
tire fabric  of  world  peace.  "If  the  military  party  should  suc- 
ceed in  having  its  way,  .  .  .  the  damage  to  the  new  structure  of 
international  society  provided  by  the  post-war  treaties  would 
be  incalculable."3  On  the  other  hand,  as  an  action  evidently 
undertaken  without  the  approval  of  the  Japanese  Premier  and 
Foreign  Minister,  it  remained  possible  that  it  was  legally  less 
aggression  than  mutiny.  To  Stimson  and  all  his  advisers  it 
seemed  clear  that  the  best  hope  for  an  honorable  settlement 
was  in  the  liberal  leaders  of  Japan  itself.  "The  evidence  in  our 
hands  pointed  to  the  wisdom  of  giving  Shidehara  and  the 
Foreign  Office  an  opportunity,  free  from  anything  approach- 
ing a  threat  or  even  public  criticism,  to  get  control  of  the  situa- 
tion."4 This  must  be  done  without  any  surrender  of  American 
treaty  rights  or  any  approval  of  the  use  of  force.  "My  problem 
is  to  let  the  Japanese  know  that  we  are  watching  them  and  at 
the  same  time  do  it  in  a  way  which  will  help  Shidehara  who  is 
on  the  right  side,  and  not  play  into  the  hands  of  any  nationalist 
agitators."  (Diary,  September  23,  1931) 

For  the  next  two  months,  with  gradually  decreasing  hopes 
of  success,  the  State  Department  followed  this  line.  The 

2  Far  Eastern  Crisis,  p.  7. 

3  Far  Eastern  Crisis,  p.  37. 

4  Far  Eastern  Crisis,  p.  34. 


method  employed  was  to  avoid  any  public  statement  critical 
of  the  Japanese,  while  at  the  same  time  using  diplomatic  chan- 
nels for  the  delivery  of  messages  expressing  the  strong  Ameri- 
can interest  in  a  peaceful  settlement  and  the  deep  American 
concern  at  the  increasing  aggressiveness  of  the  Japanese  Gov- 
ernment. Stimson  was  on  terms  of  cordial  personal  friendship 
with  the  Japanese  Ambassador,  Katsuji  Debuchi ;  he  was  cer- 
tain that  Debuchi  was  a  strong  supporter  of  Shidehara's  con- 
ciliatory policy  (this  was  by  no  means  true  of  all  members  of 
the  Japanese  foreign  service — the  cleavage  in  Japan  was  not 
one  in  which  all  civilians  were  on  one  side  and  all  soldiers  on 
the  other).  In  a  series  of  conferences  with  Debuchi,  Stimson 
constantly  reiterated  his  desire  not  to  embarrass  Shidehara, 
while  at  the  same  time  he  insisted  that  the  American  Govern- 
ment could  not  be  unconcerned  by  such  outrages  as  the  Jap- 
anese bombings  of  the  Chinese  city  of  Chinchow,  on  October 
8.  Other  more  formal  messages  were  delivered  by  American 
diplomatic  officers  in  Tokyo.  Perhaps  the  strongest  was  one 
delivered  by  Ambassador  Cameron  Forbes  on  November  27, 
in  protest  against  apparent  Japanese  preparations  to  proceed 
with  a  military  occupation  of  Chinchow,  which  by  then  was 
the  last  remaining  outpost  of  Chinese  authority  in  South  Man- 
churia. Stimson  reminded  Baron  Shidehara  that  only  three 
days  before  he  had  informed  Stimson  that  the  highest  military 
authorities  had  promised  not  to  advance  against  Chinchow; 
Stimson  imparted  a  sting  to  his  message  by  pointing  out  that 
American  policy  had   been   partly  based   on   confidence   in 
Shidehara's  word.  Whether  as  a  result  of  this  message  or  not, 
the  withdrawal  of  the  Japanese  expeditionary  force  against 
Chinchow  began  on  the  following  day.  Stimson  always  in- 
clined to  take  the  credit  for  this  withdrawal,  but  he  was  forced 
to  admit  that,  even  if  it  was  his  doing,  it  was  the  only  concrete 
result  of  his  appeals.  Baron  Shidehara  and  the  moderates  were 
struggling  to  regain  the  authority  they  had  lost  by  the  fait 
accompli^  but  each  new  report  of  Japanese  advances  in  Man- 
churia, and  each  new  evidence  of  a  stiff  tone  in  official  For- 
eign Office  papers  showed  that  they  were  fighting  a  losing 
battle.  The  harrowing  fact  remained  that  there  was  nothing 
their  friends  in  other  countries  could  do  to  help  them.  Any  at- 


tack  by  foreigners — and  particularly  by  Americans — on  Jap- 
anese militarism  would  merely  "play  into  the  hands  of  any 
nationalist  agitators."  Of  these  there  were  plenty;  one  of  them 
was  the  official  spokesman  of  the  Japanese  Foreign  Office,  a 
man  named  Shiratori,  who  delighted  in  chauvinistic  comment 
on  Stimson's  statements  whether  these  were  public  or  private. 

Meanwhile  the  main  center  of  discussion  of  the  situation  on 
Manchuria  was  Geneva.  Both  the  Assembly  and  the  Council5 
of  the  League  of  Nations  were  in  session  on  September  19, 
and  both  China  and  Japan  were  members  of  the  League — 
both,  indeed,  members  of  the  Council.  On  September  21  the 
Chinese  representative  appealed  to  the  Council  of  the  League. 
Jurisdiction  of  the  controversy  thus  passed  promptly  and 
properly  to  the  League  of  Nations,  of  which  the  United  States 
was  not  a  member. 

"We  were  not  a  member  of  the  League.  Yet  we  were  greatly 
interested  in  the  matter  over  which  it  had  thus  assumed  juris- 
diction. By  virtue  of  our  propinquity  and  of  our  historic  inter- 
est in  the  opening  up  of  both  China  and  Japan  to  the  modern 
world  we  had  in  some  ways  a  greater  direct  interest  than  any 
other  nation  in  the  world.  Furthermore,  we  were  vitally  con- 
cerned not  only  in  the  preservation  of  peace  on  this  particular 
occasion,  but  also  in  the  precedent  which  a  breach  of  it 
might  have  on  the  post-war  treaties."6  It  was  at  once  apparent, 
therefore,  that  the  State  Department  must  carefully  consider 
its  proper  course  in  assisting  the  League  to  handle  the  con- 
troversy successfully.  Here  again  Stimson  was  fortunate  in 
having  two  able  foreign-service  officers  on  the  spot — Hugh 
Wilson,  the  American  Minister  to  Switzerland,  and  Prentiss 
Gilbert,  the  Consul  General  in  Geneva ;  in  his  dealings  with 
the  League  he  also  made  use  of  Charles  G.  Dawes,  Ambassador 
to  Great  Britain,  a  man  whose  high  standing  in  Europe  gave 
his  actions  unusual  weight. 

It  was  evident  that  the  League  was  the  proper  agent  for 
handling  the  situation.  Not  only  was  it  to  the  League  that 
China  had  appealed,  but  the  League,  representing  sixty-odd 

5  The  reader  who  has  forgotten  or  never  knew  the  League  of  Nations  will  find  an 
adequate  parallel  to  these  bodies  in  the  General  Assembly  and  the  Security  Council  of 
the  United  Nations. 

6  Far  Eastern  Crisis,  p.  39. 


nations,  would  be  able  to  act  with  the  authority  of  world  opin- 
ion, whereas  any  independent  action  by  the  United  States 
would  be  merely  the  action  of  a  single  nation  susceptible  to 
the  charge  of  self-interest.  Furthermore,  the  League  had  ma- 
chinery for  handling  such  controversies,  although  some  of  it 
had  never  been  used,  while  the  treaties  under  which  the 
United  States  was  an  interested  party  offered  no  such  ready 
advantages.  For  these  reasons — and  also  because  he  had 
adopted  an  attitude  of  watchful  waiting  while  Shidehara  tried 
to  get  control  of  his  countrymen — Stimson  was  content  at  first 
to  leave  the  leadership  in  formulating  policy  to  the  League. 
At  the  same  time  it  was  of  great  importance  that  the  United 
States  should  not  act  to  embarrass  the  League.  "Our  policy 
should  be  to  co-operate  and  support  and  so  far  as  possible  to 
avoid  clashing  with  League  policy."7 

The  complex  and  fluctuating  course  of  American  co-opera- 
tion with  the  League  during  the  autumn  of  1931  cannot  here 
be  described  in  detail.  Neither  the  Americans  nor  the  mem- 
bers of  the  League  had  any  previous  experience  in  collabora- 
tion on  so  touchy  a  subject  as  a  threat  to  world  peace,  and  there 
was  misunderstanding  and  error  on  both  sides.  The  Ameri- 
cans were  frequently  nervous  lest  they  offend  American  public 
opinion  or  seem  to  be  instigators  of  a  policy  hostile  to  Japan; 
the  Europeans  were  often  upset  by  the  necessarily  tentative 
and  incomplete  co-operation  of  the  American  representatives, 
who  after  all  could  never  act  as  ordinary  members  of  the 
Council.  But  in  spite  of  these  minor  difficulties,  the  American 
effort  to  co-operate  with  the  League  was  in  general  successful, 
for  the  major  League  powers  fully  shared  the  American  view 
that  every  effort  should  be  made  to  achieve  a  settlement  by 
conciliatory  methods,  but  without  surrendering  the  obvious 
rights  of  China.  And  although  Stimson  was  criticized  in  some 
quarters  for  the  caution  with  which  he  conducted  his  "co-op- 
eration," he  thought  it  fair  to  note  that  for  an  American  Sec- 
retary of  State  to  deal  with  the  League  at  all  was  a  long  step 
forward.  To  himself  he  seemed  adventurous. 

The  Council  of  the  League  in  September  and  October  con- 
tented itself  with  two  hortatory  resolutions;  faced  in  Novem- 

7 Far  Eastern  Crisis,  p.  41. 


her  at  Paris  with  continued  Japanese  advances  in  Manchuria, 
the  Council  was  beginning  to  consider  more  energetic  action 
when  the  Japanese  for  the  first  time  expressed  their  willing- 
ness to  let  the  League  send  to  Manchuria  an  impartial  Com- 
mission of  Enquiry.  This  sudden  reversal,  coming  at  a  time 
when  disapproval  of  Japan  had  reached  a  new  high,  acted  as 
a  remarkable  damper  on  Western  resentment  and  led  to  the 
appointment  of  the  Lytton  Commission,  complete  with  an 
American  representative.  The  unanimous  resolution  of  De- 
cember 10,  establishing  the  commission,  contained  a  repetition 
and  extension  of  earlier  adjurations  in  favor  of  suspending 
military  action  and  withdrawing  troops.  But  these  appeals 
were  as  quickly  set  at  naught  as  those  in  the  earlier  resolutions. 
Japanese  aggression  continued.  On  December  n,  the  moder- 
ate Minseito  Cabinet  fell,  and  was  succeeded  by  a  Seiyukai 
Cabinet  friendly  to  the  "positive"  policy  in  Manchuria.  On 
January  2  the  military  forces  of  the  Empire  occupied  Chin- 
chow  and  destroyed  the  last  remnant  of  Chinese  authority  in 
Manchuria.  With  the  occupation  of  Chinchow,  Stimson's 
attempts  at  conciliation  by  restraint  were  ended  for  good,  and 
a  wholly  new  phase  of  American  policy  began. 

In  1947,  reconsidering  this  first  phase  of  the  Manchurian 
affair,  Stimson  found  it  difficult  to  recapture  the  atmosphere 
which  had  made  him  so  patient  in  the  face  of  repeated  acts  of 
aggression.  His  original  decision  to  support  Shidehara  by  pa- 
tience and  reticence  he  thought  sound  enough,  and  he  would 
do  it  again.  This  was  certainly  the  best  chance  of  success  in 
maintaining  peace  under  law.  But  perhaps  he  had  clung  too 
long  to  this  hope.  Once  or  twice  Western  representation  had 
delayed  Japanese  advances,  but  throughout  this  period  there 
was  not  a  single  authenticated  instance  of  Japanese  withdrawal 
from  any  position  once  effectively  taken,  and  there  were  scores 
of  reports  of  Japanese  efforts  to  reinforce  the  military  occu- 
pation with  a  subservient  civil  administration.  These  facts 
were  only  rendered  more  significant  by  constantly  misleading 
Japanese  assurances  and  constantly  violated  Japanese  prom- 
ises. More  than  that,  the  Japanese  Foreign  Office  continued 
to  expand  its  requirements  for  any  settlement.  All  this  was 
clear  to  Stimson.  Although  clothed  in  diplomatic  language^, 


his  messages  to  the  Japanese  Government  in  this  period  were 
not  soft,  and  his  diary  entries  were  still  less  so.  It  remains  a 
fact  that  the  American  policy  of  conciliation  was  often  re- 
garded as  too  kindly  to  the  Japanese  and  that,  in  spite  of  every 
effort  to  maintain  close  co-ordination  with  the  League,  Amer- 
ican influence  was  a  somewhat  restraining  factor  in  discussions 
of  collective  action.  In  the  main,  these  impressions  were  the 
result  of  exaggerated  reports  of  isolated  incidents,  coupled 
with  repeated  efforts  by  the  Japanese  to  create  the  impression 
of  a  cleavage  between  the  United  States  and  the  League.  But 
it  was  nevertheless  true  that  the  United  States  did  not  in  this 
period  step  out  boldly  against  aggression. 

The  fact  was,  as  he  could  clearly  see  in  1947,  that  Stimson 
clung  for  almost  three  months  to  his  hopes  of  a  change  in  the 
Japanese  position  for  the  excellent  reason  that  any  other  course 
would  lead  to  extremely  unsatisfactory  results.  It  was  not  easy 
to  reach  as  a  final  conclusion,  one  on  which  policy  must  be 
based,  the  view  he  expressed  in  his  diary  on  November  19, 
that  the  whole  course  of  Japanese  action  since  September  18 
had  been  one  of  flagrant  aggression,  that  "whenever  they 
stopped,  it  was  because  there  were  no  more  forces  of  Chang's 
to  attack,'7  and  that  the  attack  on  Tsitsihar,  then  just  com- 
pleted, was  "a  flagrant  violation  of  the  spirit  and  probably  the 
letter  of  all  the  treaties."  For  if  this  were  so,  and  if  further  it 
were  true,  as  Stimson  stated  in  the  same  entry,  that  "the  Jap- 
anese Government  which  we  have  been  dealing  with  is  no 
longer  in  control,"  and  that  "the  situation  is  in  the  hands  of 
mad  dogs,"  then  what  would  the  American  Government  do 
about  it,  and  what  would  happen  to  the  peace  of  the  Far  East? 

These  were  questions  debated  with  increasing  urgency  in 
the  State  Department  through  the  autumn  of  1931.  Each  new 
Japanese  aggression  stimulated  discussion.  Thus  on  October 
9,  after  the  bombing  of  Chinchow,  Stimson  brought  the  matter 
up  in  Cabinet.  In  this  meeting  Mr.  Hoover  expressed  the  ten- 
tative view  that  the  baby  must  not  be  deposited  on  the  Amer- 
icans by  the  League,  a  position  in  which  Stimson  concurred, 
and  he  also  warned  against  getting  "into  a  humiliating  posi- 
tion, in  case  Japan  refused  to  do  anything  about  what  he 
called  our  scraps  of  paper  or  paper  treaties."  This  also  was  a 


point  that  Stimson  appreciated,  but  the  diary  entry  continued 
with  a  further  comment:  "The  question  of  the  'scraps  of  paper' 
is  a  pretty  crucial  one.  We  have  nothing  but  'scraps  of  paper.' 
This  fight  has  come  on  in  the  worst  part  of  the  world  for  peace 
treaties.  The  peace  treaties  of  modern  Europe  made  out  by 
the  Western  nations  of  the  world  no  more  fit  the  three  great 
races  of  Russia,  Japan,  and  China,  who  are  meeting  in  Man- 
churia, than,  as  I  put  it  to  the  Cabinet,  a  stovepipe  hat  would 
fit  an  African  savage.  Nevertheless  they  are  parties  to  these 
treaties  and  the  whole  world  looks  on  to  see  whether  the 
treaties  are  good  for  anything  or  not,  and  if  we  lie  down  and 
treat  them  like  scraps  of  paper  nothing  will  happen,  and  in 
the  future  the  peace  movement  will  receive  a  blow  that  it  will 
not  recover  from  for  a  long  time." 

Such  a  course  was  unthinkable.  Whatever  they  might  be  to 
other  statesmen  or  to  other  nations,  the  treaties  were  not  scraps 
of  paper  to  Stimson.  Respect  for  treaties  was  the  very  founda- 
tion of  peace.  Yet  what  could  he  do?  The  treaties  to  which 
the  American  Government  was  a  party,  unlike  the  Covenant 
of  the  League,  were  treaties  without  teeth.  More  important 
still,  since  the  basic  requirement  of  policy  is  that  it  must  be 
supported  by  public  approval  and  executive  leadership,  the 
American  Government  was  without  teeth.  Mr.  Hoover  was 
a  profoundly  peaceable  man.  Outraged  as  he  was  by  Japanese 
aggression,  he  was  opposed,  in  every  fiber  of  his  being,  to  any 
action  which  might  lead  to  American  participation  in  the 
struggles  of  the  Far  East.  In  this  view  he  had  the  support  of 
the  American  people. 

Stimson  could  not  deny  that  anything  more  than  verbal 
action  to  check  Japanese  aggression  might  well  lead  to  war. 
He  was  himself  at  first  opposed  to  any  American  use  of 
economic  sanctions  on  exactly  that  ground,  and  on  November 
19,  1931,  he  so  instructed  Ambassador  Dawes  when  the  ques- 
tion was  raised  in  the  League.  The  American  Government 
would  be  delighted  if  the  League  would  impose  sanctions, 
and  would  do  nothing  to  interfere  with  such  action,  but  it 
would  not  impose  sanctions  of  its  own.  This  was  hardly  a  noble 
position,  and  Stimson  was  not  proud  of  his  part  in  it.  But 
it  was  fair  to  say  that  the  League's  interest  in  sanctions 


was  at  no  time  more  than  spasmodic.  The  feeling  which  had 
led  Dawes  to  ask  for  a  statement  of  the  American  position  did 
not  long  endure.  Like  the  Americans,  the  people  of  Europe 
were  for  "letting  George  do  it,"  and  only  the  smaller  powers, 
those  not  likely  to  be  named  as  George,  were  constantly  in 
favor  of  economic  sanctions. 

If  it  would  not  condone  the  tearing  up  of  the  treaties,  and 
if  it  would  not  take  any  economic  or  military  action  to  defend 
them,  what  would  the  American  Government  do?  It  was  this 
question  which  produced  the  famous  nonrecognition  doctrine 
as  the  only  available  answer.  It  is  first  mentioned  in  Stimson's 
diary  as  a  suggestion  made  by  Mr.  Hoover  on  November  9. 
"He  .  .  .  thinks  his  main  weapon  is  to  give  an  announcement 
that  if  the  treaty  is  made  under  military  pressure  we  will  not 
recognize  it  or  avow  it."  In 'other  words,  no  fruits  of  aggression 
would  be  admitted  as  legal  by  the  American  Government. 

Nonrecognition  was  a  moral  weapon,  a  moral  sanction.  It 
was  designed  originally  less  as  a  method  of  bringing  the  Jap- 
anese to  reason  than  as  a  method  of  reasserting  the  American 
conviction  that  no  good  whatever  could  come  from  the  breach 
of  treaties.  Insofar  as  it  was  designed  to  serve  American  inter- 
ests in  the  Far  East,  it  was  aimed  rather  more  at  China  than 
at  Japan.  Stimson  was  keenly  aware  of  the  special  relationship 
between  the  United  States  and  China  which  had  been  de- 
veloped by  generations  of  missionaries  and  educators,  and  by 
John  Hay's  Open  Door  policy;  he  knew  "the  incalculable 
harm  which  would  be  done  immediately  to  American  prestige 
in  China  and  ultimately  to  the  material  interests  of  America 
and  her  people  in  that  region,  if  after  having  for  many  years 
assisted  by  public  and  private  effort  in  the  education  and 
development  of  China  towards  the  ideals  of  modern  Christian 
civilization,  and  having  taken  the  lead  in  the  movement  which 
secured  the  covenant  of  all  the  great  powers,  including  our- 
selves, 'to  respect  her  sovereignty,  her  independence  and  her 
territorial  and  administrative  integrity,'  we  should  now  cyni- 
cally abandon  her  to  her  fate  when  this  same  covenant  was 
violated."8  The  United  States  might  not  be  able  to  prevent 

8  Far  Eastern  Crisis,  p.  90. 


aggression  against  China,  but  she  must  certainly  make  her 
opinion  of  it  clear. 

Quite  aside  from  the  specific  issue  in  the  Far  East,  the 
nonrecognition  doctrine  was  designed  by  its  sponsors  as  the 
best  available  method  of  reinforcing  the  treaty  structure,  and 
particularly  the  Kellogg  Pact.  If  the  fruits  of  aggression 
should  be  recognized,  the  whole  theory  of  the  Kellogg  Pact 
would  be  repudiated,  and  the  world  would  be  at  once  returned 
to  the  point  of  recognizing  war  as  a  legitimate  instrument  of 
national  policy.  Nonrecognition  might  not  prevent  aggression, 
but  recognition  would  give  it  outright  approval. 

Finally,  the  nonrecognition  doctrine  was  designed  to  give 
expression  to  the  deep  and  genuine  feeling  of  the  American 
people,  and  their  Government,  that  what  the  Japanese  were 
doing  in  Manchuria  was  terribly  wrong.  Not  to  have  made 
some  clear  public  statement  embodying  this  feeling  would 
have  been  to  deny  and  stifle  a  genuine  sentiment  of  the  public. 

Thus,  by  what  Stimson  called  "a  natural  and  almost  inevi- 
table sequence,"  the  State  Department  came  to  its  note  of 
January  7.  Delivered  to  both  China  and  Japan,  it  read  as 
follows :  ' 

"With  the  recent  military  operations  about  Chinchow,  the 
last  remaining  administrative  authority  of  the  Government 
of  the  Chinese  Republic  in  South  Manchuria,  as  it  existed 
prior  to  September  i8th,  1931,  has  been  destroyed.  The  Amer- 
ican Government  continues  confident  that  the  work  of  the 
neutral  commission  recently  authorized  by  the  Council  of  the 
League  of  Nations  will  facilitate  an  ultimate  solution  of  the 
difficulties  now  existing  between  China  and  Japan.  But  in 
view  of  the  present  situation  and  of  its  own  rights  and  obliga- 
tions therein,  the  American  Government  deems  it  to  be  its 
duty  to  notify  both  the  Imperial  Japanese  Government  and 
the  Government  of  the  Chinese  Republic  that  it  cannot  admit 
the  legality  of  any  situation  de  facto  nor  does  it  intend  to 
recognize  any  treaty  or  agreement  entered  into  between  those 
Governments,  or  agents  thereof,  which  may  impair  the  treaty 
rights  of  the  United  States  or  its  citizens  in  China,  including 
those  which  relate  to  the  sovereignty,  the  independence,  or  the 
territorial  and  administrative  integrity  of  the  Republic  of 


China,  or  to  the  international  policy  relative  to  China,  com- 
monly known  as  the  open  door  policy;  and  that  it  does  not 
intend  to  recognize  any  situation,  treaty  or  agreement  which 
may  be  brought  about  by  means  contrary  to  the  covenants  and 
obligations  of  the  Pact  of  Paris  of  August  27,  1928,  to  which 
Treaty  both  China  and  Japan,  as  well  as  the  United  States,  are 

With  the  publication  of  this  note  the  United  States,  with 
Stimson  as  its  spokesman,  stepped  to  the  forefront  of  the  nations 
opposing  aggression,  and  from  this  time  onward,  until  his 
retirement  from  office  fourteen  months  later,  Stimson  was  the 
outstanding  advocate  of  collective  condemnation  of  Japan. 
The  fact  that  the  note  was  addressed  to  both  parties  to  the 
controversy  was  a  concession  to  the  existence  of  a  Commission 
of  Enquiry  holding  the  dispute  sub  judice.  Both  in  China  and 
in  Japan  it  was  understood  that  the  note  was  aimed  at  Japanese 
militarism.  The  rumors  of  a  more  forthright  American  policy 
which  had  begun  to  circulate  in  December  were  fully  con- 
firmed. Stimson  had  succeeded  in  doing  what  he  set  out  to 
do — the  long  series  of  notes  to  and  from  Japan  which  had 
begun  the  previous  September  was  wound  up  "with  a  snap." 

And  shortly  afterward,  in  accordance  with  a  plan  long 
maturing,  the  American  Government  made  public  the  diplo- 
matic correspondence  to  which  this  note  was  the  climax. 
Stimson  here  turned  to  his  advantage  a  Senate  Resolution 
sponsored  by  a  man  who  was  no  friend  to  his  policy,  Hiram 
Johnson.  Johnson  asked  for  the  State  Department's  corre- 
spondence on  Manchuria,  hoping  to  uncover  sinister  and  secret 
collaboration  with  the  wicked  League  of  Nations.  What  he 
received  was  a  set  of  documents  which  showed  no  such  evil 
activity  but  which  did  show  that  for  three  months  the  State 
Department  had  been  maintaining  an  attitude  of  courteous  but 
firm  opposition'  to  the  operations  of  the  Japanese  Army,  and 
that  for  three  months  the  Japanese  had  been  giving  assurances 
which  were  promptly  violated.  The  State  Department  and  its 
Secretary  received  strong  public  support  in  a  line  of  policy 
more  affirmative,  both  in  its  use  of  international  negotiations 
and  in  its  assertion  of  international  interests,  than  anything 
done  in  the  preceding  decade. 


The  doctrine  of  nonrecognition  fully  safeguarded  the  moral 
position  of  the  United  States,  so  far  as  this  could  be  done 
without  warlike  action.  In  a  still  greater  purpose,  however, 
it  was  not  successful.  It  did  not  win  the  prompt  adherence  of 
any  other  major  power.  While  the  first  object  of  the  note  was 
simply  to  bring  the  American  position  in  balance  with  the 
facts  of  the  situation,  and  thus  to  reassert  American  principles 
and  reassure  friends  of  America  in  China,  there  was  a  further 
hope  in  the  minds  of  its  sponsors.  They  believed  that  much 
might  be  accomplished  in  moderating  the  appetites  of  the 
Japanese  if  it  could  be  clearly  demonstrated  that  the  united 
opinion  of  the  world  was  definitely  and  strongly  opposed  to 
their  course.  They  therefore  hoped  that  the  note  of  January  7 
might  be  quickly  imitated  by  other  great  nations.  Since  it  was 
deliberately  designed  "to  record  the  final  decision  of  an  in- 
fluential government  which  had  made  earnest  and  patient 
efforts  for  a  peaceful  solution,"  it  could  not  be  subjected  to 
the  delays  of  prior  consultation  with  a  view  to  joint  action.  Its 
usefulness  in  securing  international  support  of  its  position 
must  lie  rather  in  "the  setting  up  of  'a  standard  to  which  the 
wise  and  honest  may  repair,'  leaving  'the  event  in  the  hand 
of  God.'  "9  Nobody  repaired. 

Two  days  before  delivering  the  note  to  China  and  Japan 
Stimson  explained  his  intentions  and  expressed  his  hopes  to 
the  Ambassadors  of  Great  Britain,  France,  and  several  smaller 
nations  which  had  signed  the  Nine-Power  Treaty.  He  then 
waited  for  results.  The  first  and  most  disappointing  reaction 
was  that  of  the  British  Government.  Co-operation  with  Great 
Britain  was  in  many  ways  the  touchstone  of  Stimson's  foreign 
policy.  Co-operation  with  Great  Britain  in  the  Far  East  was 
of  particular  importance.  The  two  great  previous  achievements 
of  the  United  States  in  Far  Eastern  affairs,  the  establishment 
of  the  Open  Door  policy  and  the  negotiation  of  the  Washing- 
ton Treaties  of  1922,  had  been  very  largely  dependent  on 
British  co-operation.  John  Hay  had  had  the  help  of  Lord 
Salisbury;  Charles  Evans  Hughes  had  had  the  help  of  Lord 
Balfour.  Stimson  waited  now  for  the  help  of  Sir  John  Simon, 
and  he  waited  in  vain.  The  response  of  the  British  Govern- 

9  Far  Eastern  Cruis,  p.  98. 


ment,  so  far  from  supporting  his  position,  was  a  plain  rebuff. 
Choosing  to  maintain  their  confidence  in  Japanese  assurances 
about  the  Open  Door,  "His  Majesty's  Government  have  not 
considered  it  necessary  to  address  any  formal  note  to  the  Jap- 
anese Government  on  the  lines  of  the  American  Government's 
note,  but  the  Japanese  Ambassador  in  London  has  been  re- 
quested to  obtain  confirmation  of  these  assurances  from  his 
Government."  Assurances  being  the  Japanese  Government's 
strong  suit,  the  desired  promises  were  promptly  forthcoming. 
In  later  years  apologists  for  British  foreign  policy  in  the 
Manchurian  affair  were  never  able  to  find  any  satisfactory 
explanation  of  this  Foreign  Office  statement.  It  was  even  more 
astonishing  in  what  it  did  not  say  than  in  what  it  did.  As  the 
Englishman  Arnold  Toynbee  put  it,  "The  most  conspicuous 
feature  in  this  communique  was  its  silence  in  regard  to  all  the 
vital  issues — the  sovereignty,  independence  and  integrity  of 
China,  the  violation  of  the  Nine-Power  Treaty  and  the  Kel- 
logg Pact,  and  the  assertion  of  the  principle  of  the  non-recog- 
nition of  the  illegal  results  of  force  which  had  just  been  raised 
in  the  American  note  which  was  manifestly  the  most  important 
state  paper  relating  to  the  Sino-Japanese  conflict  that  had  yet 
seen  the  light."10 

What  the  British  would  not  do  the  French  would  not  do, 
nor  the  Dutch  nor  the  Italians.  The  American  Government 
stood  alone.  It  seems  a  fair  conjecture  that  this  new  form  of 
splendid  isolation  was  partly  responsible  for  the  cool  cheek 
of  the  Japanese  reply  on  January  16,  which  firmly  reasserted 
Japan's  intention  to  defend  the  sanctity  of  treaties  and  thanked 
the  United  States  for  its  eagerness  to  "support  Japan's  efforts" 
to  this  end.  The  message  continued  with  a  statement  of  the 
Japanese  position  which  in  effect  asserted  that  the  breakup  of 
China  was  so  far  advanced  as  to  justify  Japan  in  breaking  it 
up  a  little  further;  the  Japanese  said  that  this  situation  must 
"modify"  the  application  of  treaties  guaranteeing  the  terri- 
torial and  administrative  integrity  of  China.  In  1936,  as  he 
reconsidered  this  note,  Stimson  found  in  it  more  than  an  echo 
of  a  leading  editorial  published  by  the  Times  of  London  on 
January  ir,  in  which  it  was  remarked,  "Nor  does  it  seem  to 
be  the  immediate  business  of  the  Foreign  Office  to  defend  the 

10  Toynbee,  Survey  of  International  Affairs,  Oxford,   1932,  p.  542. 


'administrative  integrity'  of  China  until  that  integrity  is  some- 
thing more  than  an  ideal."11  Both  the  Times  and  the  Japanese 
were  eager  to  forget  that  it  was  precisely  because  of  the  unset- 
tled state  of  China  in  1922  that  the  Nine-Power  Treaty  had 
sought  to  safeguard  the  ideal  of  administrative  integrity. 

Thus  the  prompt  success  of  the  declaration  of  nonrecogni- 
tion  at  home  and  in  China  was  not  matched  elsewhere.  The 
moral  position  of  the  United  States  was  secure,  but  in  ordinary 
diplomatic  terms  she  had  hardly  been  very  successful.  "In 
the  middle  of  January  Japan's  aggression  in  Manchuria  had 
achieved  complete  military  and  diplomatic  success.  .  .  .  Her 
government  had  successfully  resisted  attempts  of  the  other 
nations  of  the  world  to  intervene  with  any  effectiveness ;  had 
delayed  and  thwarted  the  efforts  of  the  Council  of  the  League 
under  Article  XI,  and  finally  had  seen  a  wedge  of  differing 
policies  driven  between  Great  Britain  and  the  United  States, 
the  two  principal  nations  interested  in  these  international 
efforts.  China  was  completely  discouraged;  the  other  nations 
baffled  and  pessimistic.  The  collective  peace  machinery  had 
received  a  blow  which  made  it  look  entirely  ineffective."12 

3.      SHANGHAI 

On  the  evening  of  January  28,  1932,  a  Japanese  admiral 
named  Shiozawa,  commander  of  Japanese  forces  in  the  Inter- 
national Settlement  at  Shanghai,  ordered  his  marines  to  ad- 
vance into  Chinese  territory.  The  marines  were  resisted  by 
determined  and  skillful  infantry  of  the  Chinese  Nineteenth 
Route  Army.  The  admiral  replied  with  a  bombing  attack  on 
the  helpless  civilians  in  the  area  where  fighting  was  taking 
place.  "It  was  an  act  of  inexcusable  cruelty  and  has  stained 
the  Japanese  record  at  Shanghai  for  all  time.  .  .  .  Thousands 
of  helpless  civilians  met  their  death  and  two  hundred  fifty 
thousand  helpless  refugees  passed  from  the  ruins  of  Chapei 
into  the  International  Settlement.  But  it  was  as  useless  as  it 
was  cruel  and  utterly  failed  to  shake  the  steady  defense  of  the 
Chinese  troops.'113 

11  Far  Eastern  Crisis,  p.   103. 

12  Far  Eastern  Crisis,   p.   no. 

13  Far  Eastern  Crisis,  pp.  124-125. 


The  Japanese  attack  in  Shanghai  was  the  explosive  upshot 
of  an  energetic  and  successful  boycott  of  Japanese  trade  and 
traders  organized  by  the  Chinese  in  retaliation  for  the  occupa- 
tion of  Manchuria.  Economic  boycott  is  seldom  wholly  peace- 
ful, and  there  had  been  cases  of  unpunished  violence  against 
individual  Japanese.  But  once  again,  as  in  Manchuria,  the 
Japanese  reply  was  one,  not  of  negotiation,  but  of  unrestrained 

The  fighting  whose  first  night  was  signalized  by  such  unex- 
pected Chinese  resistance  and  such  uncalled  for  Japanese 
brutality  continued  for  more  than  a  month,  and  until  they 
were  finally  outflanked  by  a  vastly  better-equipped  force,  the 
Chinese  infantry  stubbornly  held  the  positions  they  had 
defended  on  the  first  night.  Constant  reinforcements  from 
Japan  were  thrown  into  a  series  of  frontal  attacks,  and  inci- 
dents of  brutal  and  pointless  bombing  recurred.  The  issue 
shifted  from  one  of  economics  to  one  of  face,  and  as  Japanese 
embarrassment  increased,-  so  did  'the  pride  and  confidence  of 
all  China. 

The  Shanghai .  incident  produced  an  international  effect 
quite  different  from  that  of  the  Manchurian  occupation.  In 
the  first  place,  this  time  there  was  active  fighting,  and  both 
the  Chinese  underdog  and  the  Japanese  aggressor  behaved  in 
such  fashion  as  to  arouse  strong  world  sympathy  for  China. 
In  Manchuria  the  Chinese  had  usually  refused  to  contest  the 
Japanese  advance;  peace-loving  Westerners  might  praise  this 
Chinese  restraint,  but  it  Was  nevertheless  somewhat  difficult  to 
argue  for  rights  which  could  be  so  lightly  abandoned  by  their 
owners.  As  history  repeatedly  demonstrated  in  the  following 
decade,  the  world,  and  particularly  the 'American  people, 
prefers  its  underdogs  to  fight  for  their  rights.  The  Nineteenth 
Route  Army  won  more  sympathy  for  China  than  all  the  elo- 
quence of  her  protests  against  the  occupation  of  Manchuria. 
In  this  feeling  Stimson  heartily  joined,  and  he  became  an  avid 
student  of  the  military  operations  at  Shanghai. 

While  the  Chinese  gained  by  fighting,  the  Japanese  lost. 
The  arrogance  of  Admiral  Shiozawa  and  the  brutality  of  the 
Chapei  bombing,  combined  with  the  ordinary  unpopularity 
of  the  angry  bully,  made  the  Japanese  position  before  the 


world  far  less  attractive  than  it  had  been  in  Manchuria,  where 
the  use  of  force  had  been  very  limited  and  the  case  for  Japanese 
rights  less  clearly  false.  What  had  happened  in  Manchuria, 
though  it  eventually  became  clear  enough,  was  much  less  fully 
reported,  and  much  less  understood  by  world  opinion,  than  the 
events  at  Shanghai,  which  involved  continuous  front-page 
news,  ably  reported  by  both  newspapermen  and  ordinary  West- 
erners on  the  spot.  Shanghai  was  a  part  of  the  accessible  Orient 
in  a  way  that  Mukden  was  not. 

Finally,  the  operations  at  Shanghai  awoke  the  British 
Foreign  Office.  Traditionally  the  British  interest  in  Manchuria 
was  negligible — and  accordingly  neglected;  traditionally  the 
British  interest  in  Shanghai  was  intense.  Fighting  in  Shanghai 
might  at  any  time  overrun  the  fragile  defenses  of  the  Inter- 
national Settlement,  with  very  serious  results  for  British  prop- 
erty and  British  subjects.  More  important  still,  Shanghai  was 
the  focal  point  of  extensive  British  interests  in  the  Yangtze 
Valley.  Any  assertion  of  a  special  or  exclusive  Japanese  interest 
in  the  Shanghai  area  would  seriously 'disturb  the  British. 

Thus  it  happened  that  in  dealing  with  the  -situation  in 
Shanghai  Stimson  and  the  State  Department  were  in  a  very 
much  stronger  position  than  they  had  been  in  Manchuria.  The 
Japanese  were  embarrassed  by  a  military  check;  the  Chinese 
were  heartened  by  gallant  resistance;  the  British  were  aroused 
by  a  clear  threat  to  their  interests ;  public  opinion  in  America 
was  strongly  engaged  for  China  and  against  Japan. 

Stimson's  problem  was  to  make  the  most  of  these  advantages 
in  forwarding  his  own  policy  of  firm  respect  for  treaties  and 
moral  condemnation  of  aggression. 

His  first  decision  was  to  aim  at  a  close  and  constant  co- 
operation with  the  British  Foreign  Office.  On  January  25, 
when  the  situation  in  Shanghai  was  becoming  critical,  Stimson 
held  a  series  of  discussions  with  his  advisers  and  with  the 
President.  "My  proposition  was  to  find  out  what  the  British 
would  do  with  reference  to  two  steps,  first,  to  serve  notice  on 
Japan  to  show  our  alertness  to  the  situation  and  how  big  we 
thought  our  interests  were  there  and  calling  their  attention  to 
the  fact  that  there  was  no  excuse  for  their  landing  troops  in 
the  International  Settlement;  and  second,  to  move  some  of  the 


Asiatic  Squadron  up  there  provided  the  British  would  do 
the  same."  (Diary,  January  25,  1932)  With  the  President's 
approval,  Stimson  on  the  same  day  called  in  the  British  Am- 
bassador and  explained  his  objectives  in  detail. 

The  British  reaction  to  Stimson's  inquiry  was  cordial.  The 
British  made  Stimson's  views  about  the  International  Settle- 
ment their  own,  and  with  the  bombing  of  Chapei  the  Foreign 
Office  became  fully  aroused.  Sir  John  Simon  dispatched  a 
sharp  protest  to  Tokyo,  and  in  his  eagerness  to  maintain  soli- 
darity vis-a-vis  Japan,  Stimson  followed  suit,  although  he  was 
growing  tired  of  diplomatic  representations.  A  plan  for  a  joint 
appeal  to  the  Japanese  Emperor  was  briefly  discussed  and 
reluctantly  abandoned.  As  the  fighting  spread  at  Shanghai,  the 
two  nations  agreed  on  substantial  additions  to  their  naval 
forces  there.  The  transatlantic  telephone  was  heavily  used,  and 
by  the  last  day  in  January  both  sides  were  congratulating 
themselves  and  each  other  that  the  great  objective  of  a  com- 
mon front  had  been  achieved;  in  addition  the  British  particu- 
larly were  working  to  keep  this  common  front  reinforced  by, 
the  co-operation  of  other  Western  powers.  For  the  first  time 
since  September  18,  the  Japanese  faced  united  diplomatic  op- 
position. Although  there  were  some  minor  difficulties,  this  front 
was  successfully  maintained  throughout  the  Shanghai  affair. 

Acting  in  combination,  the  active  resistance  of  the  Chinese 
and  the  diplomatic  unity  of  the  Western  powers  succeeded  in 
producing  at  Shanghai  a  result  quite  different  from  that  in 
Manchuria.  Although  the  Chinese  were  eventually  dislodged 
from  Chapei,  the  final  withdrawal  of  the  Japanese  from  all 
areas  outside  the  International  Settlement  was  peacefully 
effected  at  the  end  of  May.  Japanese  face  had  been  partially 
protected,  but  the  Chinese  boycott  continued.  In  their  defeat 
the  Chinese  had  won  a  moral  victory  which  reminded  Stimson 
of  the  victory  in  defeat  that  Americans  had  won  at  Bunker 
Hill  in  1775.  And  the  Japanese,  in  a  remarkable  Foreign  Office 
statement,  announced  that  their  withdrawal  was  designed  to 
end  "world-wide  odium"  which  the  Shanghai  incident  had 
brought  upon  Japan.  It  was  a  striking  victory  for  world  opin- 
ion, and  to  Stimson  it  was  always  a  proof  of  the  power  of 
true  Anglo-American  co-operation. 



As  a  bloody  sequel  to  Manchuria,  Shanghai  provided  a 
flaming  lesson  to  the  West  on  the  nature  of  the  Far  Eastern 
crisis,  and  during  February  and  March  there  occurred  a  series 
of  events  in  Western  diplomacy  which  showed  how  deeply 
Shanghai  had  affected  the  situation.  The  first  problem  of  the 
American  Government  was  to  examine  once  more  its  own 
policy  and  purposes.  On  January  7  the  United  States  had 
announced  a  policy  of  nonrecognition.  Was  this  a  sufficient 
expression  of  the  American  position?  Was  that  all  the  United 
States  would  do?  The  question  was  discussed  at  length  in  Cab- 
inet meetings  on  the  twenty-sixth  and  twenty-ninth  of  January. 
The  three  principal  participants  in  the  discussion  were  the 
President,  Stimson,  and  Secretary  of  War  Patrick  Hurley. 
On  the  twenty-sixth,  after  Stimson  had  briefly  stated  that  the 
situation  was  serious,  Hurley  opened  the  discussion,  making 
the  argument  that  notes  and  diplomatic  representations  were 
not  going  to  do  much  good  unless  backed  by  force,  since  in 
his  view  the  Japanese,  in  Shanghai  as  in  Manchuria,  were 
executing  steps  in  a  far-flung  plan  of  imperial  expansion  which 
could  be  blocked  only  by  war.  If  the  United  States  was  not 
prepared  to  fight,  according  to  Hurley's  argument,  she  would 
do  better  not  to  waste  breath  in  protests  which  would  be 
ignored.  Was  she  interested  in  driving  the  matter  to  a  show- 

Only  the  President  could  answer  this  question,  and  Mr. 
Hoover's  answer  was  a  categorical  negative.  In  his  view  the 
integrity  of  China  could  be  forcefully  defended  by  the  Chinese 
themselves.  He  agreed  with  Hurley's  analysis  of  the  intentions 
of  Japan,  but  he  also  believed  that  by  their  mere  size  and  per- 
sistence, the  450  million  Chinese  would  eventually  frustrate 
the  Japanese  grand  design.  In  any  event,  it  was  not  a  proper 
area  or  occasion  for  a  war  by  the  United  States.  "He  pointed 
out  strongly  the  folly  of  getting  into  a  war  with  Japan  on  this 
subject;  that  such  a  war  could  not  be  localized  or  kept  in 
bounds,  and  that  it  would  mean  the  landing  of  forces  in  the 
Far  East  which  we  had  no  reason  or  sense  in  doing.  He  said  he 
would  fight  for  Continental  United  States  as  far  as  anybody, 


but  he  would  not  fight  for  Asia."  (Diary,  January  26,  1932) 
The  President  however  did  not  at  all  agree  with  Hurley 
about  notes  and  remonstrances.  He  believed  that  the  Kellogg 
Pact  could  become  a  great  moral  force  against  aggression,  and 
he  thought  that  the  doctrine  of  nonrecognition  of  January  7 
was  a  splendid  first  step  in  mobilizing  opinion  behind  the 
principle  of  the  pact.  "He  said  that  he  thought  that  that  note 
would  take  rank  with  the  greatest  papers  of  this  country,  and 
that  that  was  the  safe  course  for  us  to  follow  now  rather  than 
by  getting  into  a  war  in  China."  (Diary,  January  26,  1932) 
Since  Mr.  Hoover  was  the  President,  and  since  he  believed 
that  any  policy  of  embargo  or  sanctions  might  lead  to  war,  his 
position  effectively  blocked  any  governmental  support  for  eco- 
nomic sanctions.  This  was  a  point  which  Stimson  had  argued 
with  Mr.  Hoover  several  times.  The  President  was  always 
willing  to  listen,  but  he  was  never  persuaded.  On  February 
20  he  "said  he  hoped  that  his  mind  was  not  closed  on  anything, 
but  he  admitted  that  it  was  as  much  closed  as  possible  on  the 
question  of  calling  an  embargo."  He  believed  that  the  enforce- 
ment of  the  treaties  to  which  the  United  States  and  Japan  were 
parties  was  a  moral  obligation  to  be  met  by  moral  pressures. 
.  In  taking  this  position  Mr.  Hoover  was  squarely  in  line 
with  the  whole  tradition  of  American  foreign  policy  in  the 
Far  East.  Even  Theodore  Roosevelt  had  always  insisted  that 
American  interests  in  the  Orient  were  not  worth  a  war.  It  was 
true  that  the  Nine-Power  Treaty  and  the  Kellogg  Pact  had 
altered  the  legal  and  moral  position,  but,  in  believing  that 
these  alterations  did  not  carry  with  them  an  obligation  to  use 
force  against  Japanese  aggression,  Mr.  Hoover  was  traveling 
in  company  with  most  of  his  countrymen.  As  Stimson  had 
himself  stated  back  in  November,  "The  policy  of  imposing 
sanctions  of  force,  which  Hurley  suggested  as  the  only  thing 
possible,  had  been  rejected  by  America  in  its  rejection  of  the 
League  of  Nations;  and  America  had  deliberately  chosen  to 
rest  solely  upon  treaties  with  the  sanction  of  public  opinion 
alone;  that  this  was  not  the  choice  of  this  administration,  but 
a  deliberate  choice  of  the  country  long  before  we  came  in." 
(Diary,  November  14,  1931) 
Debarred  from  any  advocacy  of  sanctions,  Stimson  in  early 


1932  was  hard  put  to  it  to  find  a  policy  which  would  be  effec- 
tive. He  was  finally  driven  to  a  double  course :  a  bluff  of  force 
and  a  strong  restatement  of  principles.  The  bluff  was  not  a  very 
good  one;  the  statement  of  principles  he  considered  one  of  the 
best  things  he  ever  did.  Let  us  look  first  at  the  bluff. 

Words  alone  were  unlikely  to  be  effective  in  blocking  the 
Japanese.  It  was  necessary  that  they  have  some  ground  for 
concern  about  the  attitude  of  the  Government  which  spoke 
the  words. .Thus  far  Hurley  was  clearly  right.  Even  if  the 
United  States  was  unwilling  to  impose  sanctions  and  still  more 
unwilling  to  fight  for  the  "peace  of  the  Pacific,"  might  it  not 
be  possible  to  bluff  the  Japanese?  As  Stimson  put  it  to  Mr. 
Hoover  after  the  Cabinet  meeting  of  January  26,  "The  only 
difference  I  could  see  between  his  point  and  mine  was  the 
reliance  which  I  felt  we  could  put  upon  America's  strength 
both  economically  and  militarily.  I  quoted  Roosevelt's  saying, 
'Speak  softly  and  carry  a  big  stick!7  ...  I  was  against  putting 
any  threat  into  words.  I  thought  we  had  a  right  to  rely  upon 
the  unconscious  elements  of  our  great  size  and  military 
strength;  that  I  knew  Japan  was  afraid  of  that,  and  I  was 
willing  to  let  her  be  afraid  of  that  without  telling  her  that  we 
were  not  going  to  use  it  against  her." 

This  was  a  view  that  Mr.  Hoover  did  not  fully  accept.  He 
was  so  much  a  man  of  peace  that  he  did  not  like  the  notion  of 
even  unspoken  threats  of  war.  Sensitive  to  criticism  from  men 
who  shared  his  Quaker  convictions,  he  was  frequently  eager 
to  make  it  perfectly  clear  that  no  economic  or  warlike  measures 
would  be  taken  by  his  administration  against  Japan.  It  was 
typical  of  his  loyalty  to  Stimson  that  he  held  back  from  any 
such  statement  throughout  the  winter  of  1932,  in  deference 
to  his  Secretary  of  State's  urgent  pleading.  He  further  ac- 
cepted Stimson's  suggestion  that  the  American  Fleet  be  left 
at  Hawaii,  where  it  arrived  in  mid-February  by  pure  coin- 
cidence, in  maneuvers  planned  and  publicly  announced  the 
previous  summer.  The  fleet  duly  remained  in  Hawaii  instead  of 
returning  to  its  usual  west  coast  bases,  and  it  was  probably  use- 
ful in  restraining  the  more  flagrantly  headlong  Japanese  mili- 

But  the  policy  of  bluff  on  which  Stimson  was  forced  to  rely 


was  not  an  easy  one  to  execute,  for  it  was  a  bluff  that  could  not 
be  expressed.  The  American  Government  could  not  intimate 
by  word  or  deed  that  it  favored  sanctions ;  any  such  intimation 
was  barred  by  Mr.  Hoover's  position.  Stimson  even  felt  it 
necessary  to  deny  reports  circulated  privately  in  Geneva  that 
the  American  Government  was  coming  round  to  support  of 
sanctions.  All  that  was  possible  was  to  keep  silent  on  future 
intentions,  and  the  silence  was  not  very  impressive.  And 
when  friendly  governments  attempted  to  sound  out  the  Amer- 
ican position,  the  bluff  became  still  weaker. 

The  policy  of  bluff  followed  in  the  winter  of  1932  was 
certainly  more  effective  than  any  public  announcement  that 
the  United  States  was  opposed  to  sanctions,  but  that  is  about 
all  that  can  be  said  for  it,  and  it  may  be  doubted  whether 
Japanese  leaders  were  much  surprised  when  in  May  Mr. 
Hoover  insisted  on  a  public  statement  opposing  sanctions  by 
the  then  Acting  Secretary  of  State. 

Yet  in  spite  of  this  basic  weakness  in  his  position,  Stimson 
remained  throughout  the  Shanghai  incident  the  leader  of  opin- 
ion against  Japan.  For  by  a  restatement  and  elaboration  of 
the  basic  position  of  the  United  States,  toward  the  end  of 
February,  he  set  the  tone  for  the  only  affirmative  action  taken 
by  the  League.  This  was  accomplished  in  a  public  letter  to 
Senator  Borah  which  was  in  many  ways  the  most  significant 
state  paper  Stimson  ever  wrote. 

The  Borah  letter  had  many  causes.  The  first  was  the  state 
of  American  opinion. 

In  February  and  March  Stimson  was  backed  by  a  public 
sentiment  against  Japan  stronger  than  anything  he  had  behind 
him  before  or  after.  American  admiration  of  China  was 
strongly  reinforced  by  the  exploits  of  the  Nineteenth  Route 
Army.  Even  the  dreaded  word  "sanctions"  was  now  openly 
noised  abroad,  and  a  Committee  of  Citizens  led  by  such  men 
as  Newton  D.  Baker  and  A.  Lawrence  Lowell  began  to  advo- 
cate the  imposition  of  a  trade  embargo  against  Japan.  This 
committee  represented  only  a  small  minority  in  the  country, 
but  the  indignation  to  which  it  appealed  was  general. 

As  he  considered  the  feeling  of  his  countrymen,  Stimson 
became  more  and  more  convinced  of  his  duty  to  give  official 


expression  to  the  historic  policy  and  present  opinion  of  his 
nation.  He  remembered  his  own  annoyance  at  President  Wil- 
son's hands-off  attitude  toward  the  violation  of  Belgium  in 
1914.  Here  was  a  case  of  aggression  nearly  six  months  old, 
at  least  as  serious  as  the  German  attack  on  Belgium,  and  one 
which  furthermore  directly  violated  treaties  to  which  the 
United  States  was  a  party.  "As  I  reflected  upon  it,  it  seemed 
to  me  that  in  future  years  I  should  not  like  to  face  a  verdict  of 
history  to  the  effect  that  a  government  to  which  I  had  belonged 
had  failed  to  express  itself  adequately  upon -such  a  situation."14 

A  second  reason  for  clear  public  protest  was  the  importance 
of  remaining  loyal  to  traditional  American  policy  in  China. 
During  early  February  there  were  intimations  from  Tokyo 
that  the  Japanese  no  longer  considered  the  Nine-Power  Treaty 
applicable  and  that  China  should  now  be  permanently  dis- 
membered and  her  major  commercial  areas  controlled  by 
foreigners.  Both  Japan  and  China  must  be  shown  how  far  this 
or  any  similar  suggestion  was  from  American  policy. 

Third,  and  perhaps  most  important,  it  seemed  time  for  a  new 
move  in  the  continuing  campaign  to  mobilize  world  opinion. 
Secretary  Hurley's  warning  that  public  opinion  would  not 
do  the  job  would  certainly  prove  correct  unless  the  moral  dis- 
approval of  the  United  States  should  be  reinforced  by  that  of 
other  major  nations. 

The  obvious  ground  for  a  new  statement  was  the  Nine- 
Power  Treaty.  The  first  article  of  that  treaty  was  precisely 
applicable  to  the  situation  in  Manchuria;  "no  human  lan- 
guage" could  be  more  clear  than  its  statement  of  the  obliga- 
tion of  its  signatories  "(i)  to  respect  the  sovereignty,  the  inde- 
pendence and  the  territorial  and  administrative  integrity  of 
China  and  (2)  to  provide  the  fullest  and  most  unembarrassed 
opportunity  to  China  to  develop  and  maintain  for  herself  an 
effective  and  stable  government." 

And  the  obvious  partner  for  a  new  demarche  was  Great 
Britain.  It  was  on  Mr.  Hoover's  suggestion  that  Stimson  pre- 
sented his  new  plan  to  the  British  Ambassador  on  February 
9  and  discussed  it  in  detail  with  Sir  John  Simon  in  five  trans- 
atlantic telephone  calls  during  the  following  week,  trying  to 

14  Far  Eastern  Crisis,  p.  157. 


persuade  the  British  that  the  interests  of  both  nations  would 
be  served  by  a  joint  reassertion  of  the  Nine-Power  Treaty. 
These  conversations  were  friendly  enough,  and  Sir  John  ap- 
proved of  Stimson's  plan  in  principle.  In  practice,  however, 
he  held  back.  There  were  various  reasons  for  his  reluctance 
to  accept  Stimson's  suggestion — some  good  and  some  less  good. 
Among  the  good  ones  were  Britain's  membership  in  the 
League,  where  measures  indicating  adherence  to  the  non- 
recognition  doctrine  were  pending;  it  was  reasonable  that  the 
British  should  pace  their  actions  to  those  of  the  League.  Among 
the  bad  ones  were  Sir  John's  inability  to  take  Chinese  terri- 
torial and  administrative  integrity  very  seriously  and  his  feel- 
ing that  the  question  of  Shanghai,  as  a  direct  threat  to  Western 
interests,  should  be  considered  separately  from  that  of  Man- 
churia, which  he  thought  a  dangerous  subject  in  view  of  Jap- 
anese feelings.  Such  a  separation  seemed  to  Stimson  wholly 
wrong — it  would  have  been  a  tacit  admission  that  aggression 
in  Manchuria  was  less  reprehensible  than  aggression  in  an  area 
where  there  were  extensive  British  interests. 

On  February  16  the  League  appeal  was  duly  passed  by 
twelve  members  of  the  Council  not  party  to  the  Far  Eastern 
struggle.  Although  very  politely  worded,  this  appeal  to  Japan 
implied  support  of  the  nonrecognition  doctrine  and  called 
Japan's  attention  to  her  obligation  under  the  Nine-Power 
Treaty.  In  the  days  that  followed,  Stimson  finally  became 
convinced  that  the  British  Government  felt  reluctant  to  join 
in  his  demarche.  He  was  not  especially  annoyed  at  this  situa- 
tion. For  a  time  he  considered  abandoning  the  idea  of  a  new 
American  statement,  since  it  would  be  dangerous  to  make  an 
official  appeal  or  representation  to  Japan  and  find  that  it  went 
unsupported  by  other  signatories  to  the  same  treaty. 

Then  on  February  21  he  decided  on  the  Borah  letter.  The 
Japanese  had  launched  a  major  attack  the  day  before  and 
public  feeling  both  at  home  and  abroad  was  at  a  new  high.  It 
would  not  do  to  let  this  moment  pass  without  an  American 
statement.  At  the  same  time,  although  he  had  failed  to  budge 
Mr.  Hoover  in  his  opposition  to  an  embargo,  Stimson  had 
.  the  President's  strong  support  for  a  further  effort  to  mobilize 
world  opinion.  In  order  to  avoid  or  at  least  minimize  diplo- 


matic  knifing,  Stimson  decided  to  cast  his  statement  in  the 
form  of  an  open  letter  to  Senator  Borah;  he  recalled  that 
Theodore  Roosevelt  had  often  used  this  technique  in  similar 
circumstances.  On  the  evening  of  Washington's  Birthday  and 
the  morning  of  February  23,  with  the  help  of  Rogers,  Klots, 
and  Stanley  Hornbeck,15  the  letter  was  written.  It  was  at  once 
approved  by  the  President  and  by  Borah,  and  on  the  morning 
of  the  twenty-fourth  it  was  published. 

The  letter  to  Borah,  as  Stimson  later  wrote,  "was  intended 
for  the  perusal  of  at  least  five  unnamed  addressees. "  It  was 
designed  to  encourage  China,  enlighten  the  American  public, 
exhort  the  League,  stir  up  the  British,  and  warn  Japan.  It 
aimed  to  do  all  these  things  within  the  framework  of  a  general 
exposition  of  the  basic  attitude  of  the  United  States  toward 
the  Far  East.  The  reader  who  bears  these  purposes  in  mind 
will  have  no  difficulty  in  understanding  what  lay  behind  each 
section  of  the  letter,  and  it  is  therefore  printed  below,  without 

February  23,  1932. 
My  dear  Senator  Borah: 

You  have  asked  my  opinion  whether,  as  has  been  sometimes 
recently  suggested,  present  conditions  in  China  have  in  any 
way  indicated  that  the  "so-called  Nine-Power  Treaty  has  be- 
come inapplicable  or  ineffective  or  rightly  in  need  of  modifica- 
tion, and  if  so,  what  I  considered  should  be  the  policy  of  this 

That  policy,  enunciated  by  John  Hay  in  1899,  brought  to 
an  end  the  struggle  among  various  powers  for  so-called  spheres 
of  interest  in  China  which  was  threatening  the  dismember- 
ment of  that  empire.  To  accomplish  this  Mr.  Hay  invoked 
two  principles :  ( i )  equality  of  commercial  opportunity  among 
all  nations  in  dealing  with  China,  and  (2)  as  necessary  to  that 
equality  the  preservation  of  China's  territorial  and  administra- 
tive integrity.  These  principles  were  not  new  in  the  foreign 

15  Hornbeck  was  the  chief  of  the  State  Department's  Division  of  Far  Eastern  Affairs 
throughout  this  period,  and  in  the  course  of  the  crisis  he  became  one  of  Stimson' s  most 
trusted  advisers. 


policy  of  America.  They  had  been  the  principles  upon  which 
it  rested  in  its  dealings  with  other  nations  for  many  years.  In 
the  case  of  China  they  were  invoked  to  save  a  situation  which 
not  only  threatened  the  future  development  and  sovereignty 
of  that  great  Asiatic  people,  but  also  threatened  to  create 
dangerous  and  constantly  increasing  rivalries  between  the  other 
nations  of  the  world.  War  had  already  taken  place  between 
Japan  and  China.  At  the  close  of  that  war  three  other  nations 
intervened  to  prevent  Japan  from  obtaining  some  of  the  re- 
sults of  that  war  claimed  by  her.  Other  nations  sought  and  had 
obtained  spheres  of  interest.  Partly  as  a  result  of  these  actions  a 
serious  uprising  had  broken  out  in  China  which  endangered 
the  legations  of  all  of  the  powers  at  Peking.  While  the  attack 
on  those  legations  was  in  progress,  Mr.  Hay  made  an  an- 
nouncement in  respect  to  this  policy  as  the  principle  upon 
which  the  powers  should  act  in  the  settlement  of  the  rebellion. 
He  said : 

"The  policy  of  the  Government  of  the  United  States  is  to 
seek  a  solution  which  may  bring  about  permanent  safety  and 
peace  to  China,  preserve  Chinese  territorial  and  administra- 
tive entity,  protect  all  rights  guaranteed  to  friendly  powers 
by  treaty  and  international  law,  and  safeguard  for  the  world 
the  principle  of  equal  and  impartial  trade  with  all  parts  of 
the  Chinese  Empire." 

He  was  successful  in  obtaining  the  assent  of  the  other  powers 
to  the  policy  thus  announced. 

In  taking  these  steps  Mr.  Hay  acted  with  the  cordial  sup- 
port of  the  British  Government.  In  responding  to  Mr.  Hay's 
announcement,  above  set  forth,  Lord  Salisbury,  the  British 
Prime  Minister,  expressed  himself  "most  emphatically  as 
concurring  in  the  policy  of  the  United  States." 

For  twenty  years  thereafter  the  "open  door"  policy  rested 
upon  the  informal  commitments  thus  made  by  the  various 
powers.  But  in  the  winter  of  1921  to  1922,  at  a  conference  par- 
ticipated in  by  all  of  the  principal  powers  which  had  interests 
in  the  Pacific,  the  policy  was  crystallized  into  the  so-called 
Nine-Power  Treaty,  which  gave  definition  and  precision  to 
the  principles  upon  which  the  policy  rested.  In  the  first  article 
of  that  treaty,  the  contracting  powers,  other  than  China, 
agreed ; 


"i.  To  respect  the  sovereignty,  the  independence  and  the 
territorial  and  administrative  integrity  of  China. 

U2.  To  provide  the  fullest  and  most  unembarrassed  oppor- 
tunity to  China  to  develop  and  maintain  for  herself  an  effec- 
tive and  stable  government. 

"3.  To  use  their  influence  for  the  purpose  of  effectually 
establishing  and  maintaining  the  principle  of  equal  oppor- 
tunity for  the  commerce  and  industry  of  all  nations  through- 
out the  territory  of  China. 

"4.  To  refrain  from  taking  advantage  of  conditions  in  China 
in  order  to  seek  special  rights  or  privileges  which  would 
abridge  the  rights  of  subjects  or  citizens  of  friendly  states, 
and  from  countenancing  action  inimical  to  the  security  of  such 


This  treaty  thus  represents  a  carefully  developed  and  ma- 
tured international  policy  intended,  on  the  one  hand,  to  assure 
to  all  of  the  contracting  parties  their  rights  and  interests  in 
and  with  regard  to  China,  and  on  the  other  hand,  to  assure  to 
the  people  of  China  the  fullest  opportunity  to  develop  without 
molestation  their  sovereignty  and  independence  according  to 
'the  modern  and  enlightened  standards  believed  to  obtain 
among  the  peoples  of  this  earth.  At  the  time  this  treaty  was 
signed,  it  was  known  that  China  was  engaged  in  an  attempt  to 
develop  the  free  institutions  of  a  self-governing  republic  after 
her  recent  revolution  from  an  autocratic  form  of  government; 
that  she  would  require  many  years  of  both  economic  and 
political  effort  to  that  end;  and  that  her  progress  would 
necessarily  be  slow.  The  treaty  was  thus  a  covenant  of  self- 
denial  among  the  signatory  powers  in  deliberate  renunciation 
of  any  policy  of  aggression  which  might  tend  to  interfere  with 
that  development.  It  was  believed — and  the  whole  history  of 
the  development  of  the  "open  door"  policy  reveals  that  faith — 
that  only  by  such  a  process,  under  the  protection  of  such  an 
agreement,  could  the  fullest  interests  not  only  of  China  but  of 
all  nations  which  have  intercourse  with  her  best  be  served. 

During  the  course  of  the  discussions  which  resulted  in  the 
treaty,  the  chairman  of  the  British  Delegation,  Lord  Balfour, 
had  stated  that — 

"The  British  Empire  Delegation  understood  that  there  was 
no  representative  of  any  power  around  the  table  who  thought 


that  the  old  practice  of  'spheres  of  interest7  was  either  advo- 
cated by  any  government  or  would  be  tolerable  to  this  con- 
ference. So  far  as  the  British  Government  were  concerned, 
they  had,  in  the  most  formal  manner,  publicly  announced  that 
they  regarded  this  practice  as  utterly  inappropriate  to  the 
existing  situation." 

At  the  same  time  the  representative  of  Japan,  Baron  Shide- 
hara,  announced  the  position  of  his  Government  as  follows: 

"No  one  denies  to  China  her  sacred  right  to  govern  herself. 
No  one  stands  in  the  way  of  China  to  work  out  her  own  great 
national  destiny.  .  .  ." 

It  must  be  remembered  also  that  this  treaty  was  one  of 
several  treaties  and  agreements  entered  into  at  the  Washington 
Conference  by  the  various  powers  concerned,  all  of  which 
were  interrelated  and  interdependent.  No  one  of  these  treaties 
can  be  disregarded  without  disturbing  the  general  understand- 
ing and  equilibrium  which  were  intended  to  be  accomplished 
and  effected  by  the  group  of  agreements  arrived  at  in  their 
entirety.  The  Washington  Conference  was  essentially  a  dis- 
armament conference,  aimed  to  promote  the  possibility  of 
peace  in  the  world  not  only  through  the  cessation  of  competi- 
tion in  naval  armament  but  also  by  the  solution  of  various 
other  disturbing  problems  which  threatened  the  peace  of  the 
world,  particularly  in  the  Far  East.  These  problems  were  all 
interrelated.  The  willingness  of  the  American  Government 
to  surrender  its  then  commanding  lead  in  battleship  construc- 
tion and  to  leave  its  positions  at  Guam  and  in  the  Philippines 
without  further  fortifications  was  predicated  upon,  among 
other  things,  the  self-denying  covenants  contained  in  the  Nine- 
Power  Treaty,  which  assured  the  nations  of  the  world  not  only 
of  equal  opportunity  for  their  Eastern  trade  but  also  against 
the  military  aggrandizement  of  any  other  power  at  the  expense 
of  China.  One  cannot  discuss  the  possibility  of  modifying  or 
abrogating  those  provisions  of  the  Nine-Power  Treaty  with- 
out considering  at  the  same  time  the  other  promises  upon  which 
they  were  really  dependent. 

Six  years  later  the  policy  of  self-denial  against  aggression 
by  a  stronger  against  a  weaker  power,  upon  which  the  Nine- 
Power  Treaty  had  been  based,  received  a  powerful  reinforce- 
ment by  the  execution  by  substantially  all  the  nations  of  the 


world  of  the  Pact  of  Paris,  the  so-called  Kellogg-Briand  Pact. 
These  two  treaties  represent  independent  but  harmonious  steps 
taken  for  the  purpose  of  aligning  the  conscience  and  public 
opinion  of  the  world  in  favor  of  a  system  of  orderly  develop- 
ment by  the  law  of  nations  including  the  settlement  of  all  con- 
troversies by  methods  of  justice  and  peace  instead  of  by  arbi- 
trary force.  The  program  for  the  protection  of  China  from 
outside  aggression  is  an  essential  part  of  any  such  develop- 
ment. The  signatories  and  adherents  of  the  Nine-Power  Treaty 
rightly  felt  that  the  orderly  and  peaceful  development  of  the 
400,000,000  of  people  inhabiting  China  was  necessary  to  the 
peaceful  welfare  of  the  entire  world  and  that  no  program 
for  the  welfare  of  the  world  as  a  whole  could  afford  to  neglect 
the  welfare  and  protection  of  China. 

The  recent  events  which  have  taken  place  in  China,  espe- 
cially the  hostilities  which  having  been  begun  in  Manchuria 
have  latterly  been  extended  to  Shanghai,  far  from  indicating 
the  advisability  of  any  modification  of  the  treaties  we  have 
been  discussing,  have  tended  to  bring  home  the  vital  impor- 
tance of  the  faithful  observance  of  the  covenants  therein  to  all 
of  the  nations  interested  in  the  Far  East.  It  is  not  necessary 
in  that  connection  to  inquire  into  the  causes  of  the  controversy 
or  attempt  to  apportion  the  blame  between  the  two  nations 
which  are  unhappily  involved ;  for  regardless  of  cause  or 
responsibility,  it  is  clear  beyond  peradventure  that  a  situation 
has  developed  which  cannot,  under  any  circumstances,  be 
reconciled  with  the  obligations  of  the  covenants  of  these  two 
treaties,  and  that  if  the  treaties  had  been  faithfully  observed 
such  a  situation  could  not  have  arisen.  The  signatories  of  the 
Nine-Power  Treaty  and  of  the  Kellogg-Briand  Pact  who  are 
not  parties  to  that  conflict  are  not  likely  to  see  any  reason  for 
modifying  the  terms  of  those  treaties.  To  them  the  real  value 
of  the  faithful  performance  of  the  treaties  has  been  brought 
sharply  home  by  the  perils  and  losses. to  which  their  nationals 
have  been  subjected  in  Shanghai. 

That  is  the  view  of  this  Government.  We  see  no  reason  for 
abandoning  the  enlightened  principles  which  are  embodied 
in  these  treaties.  We  believe  that  this  situation  would  have 
been  avoided  had  these  covenants  been  faithfully  observed,  and 
no  evidence  has  come  to  us  to  indicate  that  a  due  compliance 


with  them  would  have  interfered  with  the  adequate  protection 
of  the  legitimate  rights  in  China  of  the  signatories  of  those 
treaties  and  their  nationals. 

On  January  yth  last,  upon  the  instruction  of  the  President, 
this  Government  formally  notified  Japan  and  China  that  it 
would  not  recognize  any  situation,  treaty  or  agreement  entered 
into  by  those  Governments  in  violation  of  the  covenants  of 
these  treaties,  which  affected  the  rights  of  our  Government 
or  its  citizens  in  China.  If  a  similar  decision  should  be  reached 
and  a  similar  position  taken  by  the  other  governments  of  the 
world,  a  caveat  will  be  placed  upon  such  action  which,  we 
believe,  will  effectively  bar  the  legality  hereafter  of  any  title 
or  right  sought  to  be  obtained  by  pressure  or  treaty  violation, 
and  which,  as  has  been  shown  by  history  in  the  past,  will  even- 
tually lead  to  the  restoration  to  China  of  rights  and  titles  of 
which  she  may  have  been  deprived. 

In  the  past  our  Government,  as  one  of  the  leading  powers  on 
the  Pacific  Ocean,  has  rested  its  policy  upon  an  abiding  faith 
in  the  future  of  the  people  of  China  and  upon  the  ultimate 
success  in  dealing  with  them  of  the  principles  of  fair  play, 
patience,  and  mutual  good  will.  We  appreciate  the  immensity 
of  the  task  which  lies  before  her  statesmen  in  the  development 
of  her  country  and  its  Government.  The  delays  in  her  progress, 
the  instability  of  her  attempts  to  secure  a  responsible  govern- 
ment, were  foreseen  by  Messrs.  Hay  and  Hughes  and  their 
contemporaries  and  were  the  very  obstacles  which  the  policy 
of  the  "open  door"  was  designed  to  meet.  We  concur  with 
those  statesmen,  representing  all  the  nations  in  the  Washing- 
ton Conference,  who  decided  that  China  was  entitled  to  the 
time  necessary  to  accomplish  her  development.  We  are  pre- 
pared to  make  that  our  policy  for  the  future. 

Very  sincerely  yours, 

The  Honorable  William  E.  Borah 
United  States  Senate 

The  Borah  letter  was  published  only  one  day  after  a  Jap- 
anese statement  which  openly  repudiated  the  whole  idea  of  a 


strong  and  independent  China.  In  answer  to  the  League  appeal 
of  February  16,  it  was  announced  that  "the  Japanese  Govern- 
ment do  not  and  cannot  consider  that  China  is  an  'organized 
people'  within  the  meaning  of  the  Covenant  of  the  League  of 
Nations.  China  has,  it  is  true,  been  treated  in  the  past  by  com- 
mon consent  as  if  the  expression  connoted  an  organized 
people.  But  fictions  cannot  last  forever.  .  .  ." 

Thus  the  lines  were  drawn.  On  the  one  hand  stood  the 
United  States,  insistent  on  the  maintenance  of  China's  inde- 
pendence and  integrity.  On  the  other  was  Japan,  impatient 
of  the  "fictions"  of  the  Nine-Power  Treaty  and  determined 
to  impose  a  unilateral  solution  on  the  ground  that  "she  believes 
that  she  is  naturally  and  necessarily  in  a  far  better  position  to 
appreciate  the  facts  than  any  distant  power  can  possibly  be." 
To  the  man  with  eyes  to  see  and  ears  to  hear,  these  words  from 
these  nations,  if  adhered  to,  could  only  mean  that  in  the  long 
run  war  was  inevitable.  As  Stimson  put  it  in  his  diary  on 
March  9,  1932,  "At  present  it  seems  to  me  that  if  Japan  keeps 
up  this  attitude  in  which  she  now  is,  we  are  shaping  up  an 
issue  between  the  two  great  theories  of  civilization  and  eco- 
nomic methods.  It  looks  a  little  as  if  Japan  had  made  up  her 
mind  that  industrialization  and  foreign  trade  will*  not  be 
enough  for  her  if  she  cannot  hold  it,  and  is  yielding  to  the 
temptation  and  thinking  that  she  can  make  markets  for  her- 
self in  China  by  force,  which  means  that  she  must  permanently 
exploit  China  and  impose  the  suzerainty  of  a  dominant  race 
upon  another  race."  This  would  not  work;  in  the  long  run 
China,  "the  better  race,"  would  frustrate  Japan.  "But  in  the 
meanwhile,  there  will  be  presented  a  very  sharp  issue  with  our 
policy  in  the  Pacific  as  exemplified  by  a  long  line  of  steps 
which  we  have  taken  beginning  in  1844  and  leading  up  to  the 
'Open  Door'  and  the  Nine-Power  Pact.  During  the  course 
of  that  rivalry  it  is,  in  my  opinion,  almost  impossible  that  there 
should  not  be  an  armed  clash  between  two  such  different 

Through  the  decade  that  followed  the  dreaded  contest  came 
ever  nearer.  American  diplomacy  was  sometimes  strong  and 
sometimes  gentle  in  the  execution  of  Pacific  policy,  but  the 
basic  American  stand  for  treaty  rights  and  a  strong  China  was 


never  deserted.  And  though  there  were  ups  and  downs  in 
Japanese  diplomacy  too,  the  general  trend  was  toward  con- 
stant expansion  of  the  claims  of  1931  and  1932.  Japan  knew 
better  than  the  West  what  was  right  for  China;  Japan  was 
the  proper  and  natural  leader  of  the  new  East  Asia;  Japan 
would  deal  with  reality  while  the  Americans  mouthed  their 
principles.  Through  this  rising  stream  of  aggressive  self-justi- 
fication there  ran  the  increasingly  blunt-  repudiation  of  the 
Nine-Power  Treaty.  First  it  was  unrealistic ;  later  it  was  obso- 
lete; in  the  final  Japanese  statement  of  December  7,  1941,  it 
was  described  as  "the  chief  factor  responsible  for  the  present 
predicament  of  East  Asia."  A  careful  reading  of  the  diplo- 
matic negotiations  that  preceded  Pearl  Harbor  can  lead  to  no 
conclusion  but  that  it  was  American  support  of  China — Amer- 
ican refusal  to  repudiate  the  principles  of  Hay,  Hughes,  Stim- 
son,  and  Hull — which  proved  the  final  cause  of  the  breakdown 
of  negotiations  and  the  beginning  of  war.  If  at  any  time  the 
United  States  had  been  willing  to  concede  to  Japan  a  free  hand 
in  China,  there  would  have  been  no  war  in  the  Pacific.  The 
lines  of  division  laid  down  so  clearly  in  February,  1932,  led 
straight  to  Pearl  Harbor. 


In  the  winter  of  1932  Stimson's  forecast  of  war  was  only 
the  expression  of  the  personal  fears  of  an  individual.  In  his 
official  capacity  he  was  armed  with  "spears  of  straw  and  swords 
of  ice,"10  and  he  was  forced  to  proceed  with  a  line  of  policy 
which  seems  in  retrospect  to  have  been  very  weak.  The  Borah 
letter,  with  its  implication  that  continued  aggression  in  the 
Far  East  might  involve  a  forceful  reassertion  of  powers  which 
had  been  abandoned  in  1922,  was  the  strongest  statement  Stim- 
son  made  during  the  Manchurian  crisis,  and  its  implied  threat 
was  at  no  time  developed  into  action. 

But  at  least  it  stood  as  a  clear  statement  of  American  policy 
and  a  definite  warning  that  the  United  States  understood  and 
thoroughly  disapproved  the  course  of  the  Japanese.  It  cer- 

16  An  old  Chinese  saying  which  Stimson  picked  up  from  the  perceptive  French  poet 
and  ambassador,  Claudel. 


tainly  compared  favorably  with  the  position  taken  in  the  fol- 
lowing week  by  the  British  Government.  On  February  29, 
pressed  in  the  House  of  Commons  for  a  statement  on  the  re- 
action of  His  Majesty's  Government  to  the  Borah  letter, 
Anthony  Eden,  Sir  John  Simon's  Under  Secretary,  said,  "We 
should  certainly  not  agree  to  seeing  the  terms  of  the  Nine- 
Power  Treaty  flouted,  but  in  face  of  the  assurance  given  by 
the  Japanese  Government  I  can  see  no  justification  for  our 
assuming  that  anything  of  the  kind  is  likely  to  take  place."  Mr. 
Eden  apparently  did  not  agree  with  the  Borah  letter  that  the 
treaty  had  already  been  flouted,  and  his  statement  must  have 
been  consoling  to  the  Japanese  Foreign  Office;  His  Majesty's 
Government  was  still  receptive  to  assurances. 

But  Sir  John  Simon  was  not  prepared  to  abandon  entirely 
his  Shanghai-born  co-operation  with  the  United  States.  Hav- 
ing stood  aside  while  Stimson  warned  the  Japanese  that  they 
were  violating  the  Nine-Power  Treaty,  he  now  offered  some 
amends.  He  was  not  prepared  to  admit  that  the  Japanese  were 
behaving  badly,  but  he  would  agree  to  go  on  record  that  bad 
behavior  was  not  to  be  recognized.  On  March  n,  1932,  the 
Assembly  of  the  League  of  Nations  adopted  without  dissent 
the  doctrine  of  nonrecognition.  The  initiative  in  this  move 
came  from  Sir  John  Simon.  Stimson  promptly  expressed  his 
satisfaction  that  so  far  at  least  the  lead  of  the  United  States  had 
been  followed. 

It  was  now  more  clear  than  ever  that  moral  condemnation 
was  to  be  the  main  weapon  of  the  Western  nations  against 
aggression.  On  a  trip  to  Geneva  in  April  and  early  May, 
Stimson  was  able  to  explore  at  firsthand  the  opinions  and 
attitudes  of  the  leading  statesmen  of  Europe.  Although  his 
mission  was  nominally  concerned  with  disarmament,  his  prin- 
cipal interest  was  the  treatment  of  the  Far  Eastern  crisis ;  and 
in  conversations  with  Ramsay  MacDonald,  Sir  John  Simon, 
Tardieu  of  France,  Matsudaira  of  Japan,  and  many  others, 
he  was  able  at  once  to  communicate  the  American  attitude  and 
to  understand  more  clearly  than  he  had  before  the  feelings 
of  his  colleagues  abroad.  What  he  learned  was  not  encourag- 

From  the  beginning  the  nonrecognition  doctrine  had  been 


a  compromise  result  of  two  conflicting  attitudes.  One  was 
the  view  of  which  Stimson  was  the  leader — that  a  united 
moral  judgment  against  Japanese  aggression  was  the  necessary 
beginning  in  preserving  the  peace  treaties.  In  Stimson's  think- 
ing through  the  winter  of  1932,  nonrecognition  had  been 
regarded  less  as  a  sufficient  step  than  as  a  necessary  first  step. 
But  in  the  opinion  of  Mr.  Hoover  it  was  not  a  minimum  but 
a  maximum  measure.  Although  the  President  once  or  twice 
suggested  the  further  step  of  joint  withdrawal  of  ambassadors 
and  ministers  from  Tokyo,  he  regarded  moral  pressure  as  the 
only  pressure  which  would  be  justified  in. dealing  with  oriental 
affairs  and  he  firmly  opposed  the  suggestion  of  any  economic 
or  military  action;  just  as  strongly  he  opposed  any  economic 
or  military  threat.  Stimson  found  in  Europe  that  it  was  Mr. 
Hoover's  view  and  not  his  own  that  was  widely  accepted  among 
the  diplomats  of  the  major  European  powers.  His  own  atti- 
tude was  echoed  only  among  representatives  of  the  smaller 

There  was  no  choice  as  to  what  he  should  do  next.  The  coun- 
try was  opposed  to  sanctions;  the  President  was  opposed  to 
sanctions ;  the  major  European  nations,  partly  because  of  a 
covert  friendship  for  Japan  and  partly  for  the  simple  reason 
that  Asia  was  no  great  concern  of  theirs,  were  opposed  to  sanc- 
tions. Only  the  power  of  moral  judgment  remained.  Perhaps 
that  would  be  sufficient;  in  any  case  the  only  course  for  a  man 
who  was  a  soldier  and  not  a  critic  by  temperament  was  to  make 
the  best  of  his  bad  situation.  Stimson  set  himself  at  Geneva  and 
through  the  remainder  of  his  service  as  Secretary  of  State  to 
the  purpose  of  obtaining  and  maintaining  a  world  judgment 
against  Japan.  At  the  best  this  policy  might  in  fact  deter  the 
Japanese.  At  the  worst  it  would  lay  a  firm  foundation  of  prin- 
ciple upon  which  the  Western  nations  and  China  could  stand 
in  a  later  reckoning. 

During  the  summer  of  1932  the  situation  in  the  Far  East 
remained  relatively  quiet.  The  Japanese  had  erected  a  puppet 
government  in  Manchukuo.  That  government  began  to  take 
over  certain  international  functions  of  tax  and  tariff  which 
could  not  be  recognized  by  governments  supporting  the  non- 
recognition  doctrine,  and  Stimson  protested.  Further  Japanese 


expansion  in  North  China  was  undertaken  and  Stimson  pro- 
tested. But  the  State  Department,  like  the  League  of  Nations, 
was  waiting  for  the  report  of  the  Lytton  Commission  and 
while  it  waited  the  Japanese  continued  undisturbed  on  their 
way.  Reports  from  the  Embassy  in  Tokyo  made  it  clear  that 
they  had  no  intention  of  changing  their  course  in  response 
to  any  form  of  pressure  from  the  West.  Meanwhile  in  August 
Stimson  was  able  to  take  one  further  step  in  the  development 
of  his  campaign  for  collective  moral  pressure. 

On  August  8,  1932,  he  spoke  before  the  Council  of  Foreign 
Relations  on  "The  Pact  of  Paris — Three  Years  of  Develop- 
ment." In  this  speech  he  developed  in  detail  his  conviction 
that  the  pact  marked  a  new  era  in  international  relations,  that 
it  made  war  "an  illegal  thing,"  and  that  it  thus  wholly  altered 
the  old  concept  of  neutrality,  conferring  new  rights  and  duties 
on  neutral  nations.  "Hereafter  when  two  nations  engage  in 
armed  conflict  either  one  or  both  of  them  must  be  wrongdoers 
— violators  of  this  general  treaty  law.  We  no  longer  draw  a 
circle  about  them  and  treat  them  with  the  punctilios  of  the 
duelist's  code.  Instead  we  denounce  them  as  lawbreakers." 

He  went  on  to  argue  that  this  proper  and  necessary  act  of 
denunciation  was  in  itself  a  powerful  engine  of  peace.  "The 
Kellogg-Briand  Pact  provides  for  no  sanctions  of  force.  .  .  . 
Instead  it  rests  upon  the  sanction  of  public  opinion  which  can 
be  made  one  of  the  most  potent  sanctions  of  the  world.  .  .  . 
Public  opinion  is  the  sanction  which  lies  behind  all  interna- 
tional intercourse  in  time  of  peace.  Its  efficacy  depends  upon 
the  will  of  the  people  of  the  world  to  make  it  effective.  If  they 
desire  to  make  it  effective,  it  will  be  irresistible.  Those  critics 
who  scoff  at  it  have  not  accurately  appraised  the  evolution  in 
world  opinion  since  the  Great  War." 

Though  this  statement  was  extreme,  it  was  one  which  a  man 
might  fairly  make  in  trying  to  give  life  to  the  only  force  avail- 
able to  him.  Certainly  public  opinion  would  never  become  a 
successful  sanction  unless  men  believed  in  it. 

To  get  complete  acceptance  of  a  moral  sanction  was  not  easy. 
Enveloped  in  the  pacifistic  atmosphere  of  the  twenties,  a  great 
many  Americans — and  many  men  in  other  countries  too — 
believed  that  military  or  economic  pressure  was  itself  immoral. 


Though  Stimson  did  not  himself  accept  this  position,  he  was 
bound  to  admit  its  force  and  acknowledge  that  the  Kellogg 
Pact  would  not  have  had  general  support  if  it  had  included 
stronger  sanctions  than  that  of  public  opinion.  "Any  other 
course,  through  the  possibility  of  entangling  the  signatories 
in  international  politics,  would  have  confused  the  broad  simple 
aim  of  the  treaty  and  prevented  the  development  of  that 
public  opinion  upon  which  it  most  surely  relies." 

Public  opinion  was  Stimson's  only  weapon  in  1932.  Through 
that  year  and  for  a  long  time  after  he  did  his  utmost  to  make  it 
effective.  But  it  was  a  vain  hope,  as  he  always  feared  it  would 
be.  And  in  this  respect  his  advocacy  had  been  harmful:  if 
people  were  taught  that  public  opinion  was  "irresistible,"  they 
might  the  more  easily  excuse  themselves  from  using  stronger 
weapons.  This  was  a  mistake  which  Stimson  himself  never 
made,  but  he  was  afraid,  in  1947,  that  in  his  attempt  to  make 
the  best  of  what  he  had,  he  had  perhaps  given  aid  and  comfort 
to  the  very  irresponsibility  he  hated.  Such  were  the  difficulties 
of  arousing  Americans  to  action  without  frightening  them  into 
a  deeper  isolation  than  ever. 

This  speech  of  August  8  said  pitiably  little,  in  the  light  of 
later  events,  but  its  statement  of  the  meaning  and  danger  of 
aggression  was  exact,  and  its  assertion  of  the  doctrine  that  war 
was  illegal  was  received  with  clamorous  disfavor  in  Japan. 
The  galled  jade  winced. 

The  Lytton  Commission  report  was  signed  early  in  Septem- 
ber and  made  public  at  the  beginning  of  October,  1932.  It  was 
a  masterful  summary  of  events  in  Manchuria  and  a  decisive 
judgment  against  Japan  on  all  major  issues.  For  the  student  of 
the  origins  and  meaning  of  the  Manchurian  incident  it  remains 
today  the  basic  document.  Its  arraignment  of  Japan  was  unan- 
swerable. Stimson  devoted  his  energies  in  the  months  that 
followed  to  securing  its  adoption  by  the  League  of  Nations. 
When  his  advice  was  asked  by  some  of  the  members  of  the 
League  he  suggested  that  the  Assembly  act  like  a  judge  re- 
ceiving the  report  of  a  master  in  chancery;  it  should  adopt 
the  report  as  its  findings  and  judgment.  There  can  be  no  doubt 
that  American  diplomatic  pressure  toward  this  end  was  both 
necessary  and  effective,  for  other  great  powers,  and  partial- 


larly  Great  Britain,  continued  to  edge  away  from  any  decisive 
judgment  against  Japan;  and  Sir  John  Simon  in  December, 
1932,  made  a  speech  to  the  Assembly  which  could  only  be 
taken  as  an  attempt  to  conciliate  Japanese  opinion  by  empha- 
sizing out  of  all  proportion  those  small  sections  of  the  Lytton 
Commission  report  upon  which  a  defense  for  Japan  might  be 
based.  At  last,  after  months  of  debate  and  delay,  the  League 
of  Nations  on  February  24,  with  Japan  alone  dissenting, 
adopted  a  report  accepting  in  full  the  findings  of  the  Lytton 
Commission  and  refusing  to  recognize  the  puppet  regime  in 
Manchuria.  As  it  had  done  seventeen  months  before,  the 
League  recommended  the  evacuation  of  Japanese  troops  from 
all  positions  outside  the  railway  zone  and  the  re-establishment 
of  a  genuinely  Chinese  regime  in  Manchuria.  On  the  following 
day  Stimson  completed  his  record  of  co-operation  with  the 
League  by  a  formal  statement  expressing  general  approval  of 
all  its  findings  and  firm  support  of  the  doctrine  of  nonrecog- 
nition.  One  month  later  the  Japanese  gave  notice  of  withdrawal 
from  the  League  of  Nations.  A  year  and  a  half  of  debate, 
conciliation,  warning,  investigation,  and  judgment  had  ended 
with  no  greater  material  result  than  the  nonrecognition  of  a 
conquest  whose  fruits  the  Japanese  Government  continued  to 
enjoy  unmolested. 

In  assessing  the  accomplishment  of  peace-loving  statesmen 
throughout  the  world  in  dealing  with  the  crisis  of  aggression 
in  Manchuria,  it  is  not  easy  to  come  to  any  final  judgment  on 
responsibilities,  successes,  and  failures.  It  is  a  fact  that  aggres- 
sion was  not  prevented.  If  the  Japanese  had  been  content  with 
their  Manchurian  conquest,  they  might  have  remained  at 
peace  with  the  world  as  they  had  done  after  the  similar  con- 
quest of  Korea,  and  the  nonrecognition  doctrine  must  in  time 
have  become  merely  a  dead  letter.  The  brave  hopes  for  moral 
condemnation  as  a  policy  effective  in  itself  can  find  little  justi- 
fication in  subsequent  history.  It  was  hard  for  Stimson  in 
1947  to  recapture  the  atmosphere  of  the  opinion,  in  which 
he  and  General  McCoy  had  agreed  early  in  1933,  that  "the 
policy  of  careful,  nonirritating  but  firm  assistance  in  lining  up 
the  powers  against  Japan  is  the  one  that  is  going  to  win  out, 
and  the  moral  pressure  upon  Japan  is  going  to  be  really  more 


effective  than  the  economic  pressure  which  she  is  up  against 
in  having  bitten  off  more  than  she  can  chew."  (Diary,  Janu- 
ary 14,  1933)  He  had  made  a  mistake  which  he  clearly 
described  fourteen  years  later.  "What  happened  after  World 
War  I  was  that  we  lacked  the  courage,  to  enforce  the  authori- 
tative decision  of  the  international  world.  We  agreed  with  the 
Kellogg  Pact  that  aggressive  war  must  end.  We  renounced  it 
and  we  condemned  those  who  might  use  it.  But  it  was  a  moral 
condemnation  only.  We  thus  did  not  reach  the  second  half  of 
the  question — what  will  you  do  to  an  aggressor  when  you 
catch  him?  If  we  had  reached  it,  we  should  easily  have  found 
the  right  answer,  but  that  answer  escaped  us  for  it  implied  a 
duty  to  catch  the  criminal  and  such  a  choice  meant  war.  .  .  . 
Our  offense  was  thus  that  of  the  man  who  passed  by  on  the 
other  side."17  Seen  in  the  retrospect  of  1947,  therefore,  the 
doctrine  of  nonrecognition  and  moral  condemnation  was 
wholly  inadequate. 

But  from  another  point  of  view  Stimson's  success  in  securing 
a  unanimous  judgment  against  Japan  and  a  nearly  unanimous 
adoption  of  the  nonrecognition  doctrine  seemed  to  him  perhaps 
the  greatest  constructive  achievement  of  his  public  life.  The 
United  States,  with  him  as  spokesman,  had  taken  a  leading 
position  in  organizing  the  opinion  of  the  world,  and  by  this 
leadership  there  had  been  secured  a  united  front  against 
approval  of  conquest  by  military  force.  This  united  front  did 
not  prevent  aggression  or  punish  it  or  even  act  as  an  effective 
discouragement  to  further  aggressors.  But  it  prevented  any 
acquiescence  by  peace-loving  powers  in  a  return  to  the  jungle 
law  of  international  diplomacy  before  the  First  World  War. 
If  it  were  true,  as  Stimson  believed  in  March,  1932,  that 
Japanese  aggression  must  inevitably  lead  to  war,  it  was  also 
true  that  the  doctrine  of  nonrecognition  laid  the  cornerstone 
for  a  righteous  stand  on  principles  of  law  and  order  by  the 
nations  which  in  the  end  combined  to  win  the  Second  World 
War.  The  doctrine  of  nonrecognition  was  not  so  much  wrong 
as  insufficient,  and  its  insufficiency  was  plainly  recognized  by 
Stimson  long  before  the  outbreak  of  the  war. 

And  of  course  from  another  aspect  it  seemed  to  Stimson  in 

17  "The  Nuremberg  Trial,"  Foreign  Affairs,  January,  1947. 


1947  that  too  harsh  a  judgment  against  the  doctrine  of  moral 
condemnation  would  be  unjustified  by  the  events  of  1931  to 
1933.  The  effectiveness  of  any  sanction,  moral,  economic,  or 
military,  rested  on  the  unity  and  will  with  which  it  was 
executed.  The  moral  condemnation  of  Japan  in  1933  was  not 
truly  united  or  genuine.  It  was  never  in  the  minds  of  many  of 
the  statesmen  who  supported  it  anything  better  than  a  lightning 
rod  for  the  resentment  of  the  people  of  the  world.  The 
righteous  anger  which  moved  Stimson  was  not  shared,  to  put 
it  mildly,  by  Sir  John  Simon.  It  was  not  accidental  that  Stim- 
son's  name  alone  became  pre-eminently  known  and  hated  by 
the  militarists  of  Japan.  Whether  the  Japanese  could  have 
been  brought  to  reason  if  Stimson  had  had  an  "opposite 
number"  of  his  own  opinion  and  temper  in  the  British  Foreign 
Office,  he  could  not  say.  Perhaps  no  moral  judgment,  however 
swift  or  united,  would  have  been  effective,  and  before  any 
larger  measures  could  have  been  adopted  both  the  people  and 
the  President  of  the  United  States  would  have  had  to  change 
their  positions,  and  so  would  the  Prime  Minister  of  Great 

As  a  test  of  the  League  of  Nations,  the  Manchurian  crisis 
was  not  wholly  fair;  it  involved  a  distant  land  in  a  part  of  the 
world  with  which  the  Western  nations  that  dominated  the 
League  were  little  concerned ;  it  occurred  in  a  time  of  general 
European  crisis;  it  deeply  affected  a  nonmember,  the  United 
States;  the  member  of  the  League  most  closely  affected  was 
led  in  foreign  affairs  by  a  statesman  undisturbed  by  the  abstract 
noun  aggression.  Stimson  always  believed  that  in  the  face  of 
those  obstacles  the  League  performed  surprisingly  well. 

His  own  feeling  was  that  the  final  failure  lay  as  much  in  his 
own  country  as  anywhere.  For  in  the  end  the  basic  deterrent 
to  aggression  is  the  willingness  of  the  nations  to  take  action 
against  the  aggressor.  No  more  than  any  other  nation  was  the 
United  States  prepared  for  action  in  1932.  The  moral  sense  of 
the  nation  was  sound,  and  in  the  end,  the  United  States  re- 
deemed by  force  the  principles  of  the  Borah  letter.  But  it  was 
a  slow  awakening,  and  if  the  Japanese  had  been  able  to  take 
China  as  easily  as  they  took  Manchuria,  it  might  never  have 
come  at  all.  Fortunately  it  did  not  work  out  that  way. 


The  Tragedy  of  Timidity 


THE  American  economic  folly  of  which  the  war  debts 
were  the  most  striking  example  was  fully  matched  in  the 
political  field  by  the  extraordinary  retreat  from  responsibility 
which  took  place  after  the  repudiation  of  Mr.  Wilson's 
League.  Stimson  never  shared  the  view  of  some  Frenchmen 
that  this  withdrawal  was  the  only  major  cause  of  the  failure 
of  Versailles;  the  tragedy  of  the  postwar  decades,  as  he  saw 
it,  was  that  not  one  but  every  great  power  was  guilty  of  in- 
credible folly.  But  it  was  certainly  his  belief  that  the  American 
contribution  to  failure  was  as  great  as  that  of  any  other  nation. 
When  they  rejected  the  peace  treaty  in  1919,  the  Americans 
became  the  first  to  reject  the  burden  of  the  peacemaker,  and 
the  foreign  policy  of  the  United  States  for  twenty  years  after 
that  decision  was  hobbled  and  ineffective. 

The  political  history  of  postwar  Europe  can  easily  be  read 
as  a  series  of  great  hopes  meanly  lost.  It  was  this  reading 
certainly  that  seemed  accurate  to  Stimson  as  he  looked  back 
fifteen  years  later  at  the  two  critical  years  with  which  he  was 
personally  familiar — 1931  and  1932.  Although  there  were 
other  crises  in  other  years,  it  seemed  to  him  quite  possible  that 
the  later  hist9rian  would  decide  that  the  central  turning 
point — the  moment  at  which  the  balance  shifted  from  the 
building  of  peace  to  the  vain  effort  to  prevent  war — was  the 
moment  in  early  1933  when  the  political  feebleness  of  the 
democracies  was  rewarded  by  the  appointment  of  Adolf  Hitler 
as  Chancellor  of  the  German  Reich.  Perhaps  the  events  of 
1931  and  1932  were  already  beyond  the  control  of  the  states- 



men  then  charged  with  affairs.  Yet  as  Stimson  looked  back  it 
was  a  matter  of  no  great  difficulty  to  see  what  should  have  been 
done.  More  astonishing  still,  it  had  been  perfectly  easy  even 
in  1931  to  see  what  was  needed — and  the  responsible  statesmen 
in  private  conversations  repeatedly  told  each  other  the  answer. 
But  it  happened  that  each  man  was  at  his  best  in  giving  advice, 
not  in  taking  it. 

A  major  focus  of  European  negotiations  in  1931  and  1932 
was  the  question  of  disarmament.  This  was  the  honorable 
legacy  of  the  peace  settlement;  it  had  been  the  intention  of  the 
victorious  statesmen  so  to  organize  Europe  that  the  need  for 
armies  and  navies  would  gradually  diminish  and  eventually 
disappear.  There  was  an  assurance  of  this  intention  in  the 
Versailles  Treaty,  a  fact  which  the  disarmed  Germans  never 
permitted  their  conquerors  to  forget.  During  the  1 920*8  the 
discussions  of  disarmament  were  dilatory  and  inconclusive, 
reviving  when  men  like  MacDonald,  Briand,  and  Stresemann 
were  in  office  and  dying  down  when  more  conservative  leaders 
had  control.  But  by  1931  the  hope  of  tax  relief  and  the  shining 
vision  of  swords  beaten  into  plowshares — or,  in  a  later  meta- 
phor even  less  scientific,  guns  churned  into  butter — had  been 
so  long  held  out  to  the  world  that  further  delay  would  have 
been  confession  of  failure.  It  is  a  frequent  characteristic  of 
diplomacy  that  it  objects  much  less  to  failure  than  it  does  to 
the  confession  thereof,  and  therefore  it  was  agreed  that  a  full- 
dress  World  Disarmament  Conference  should  be  held  at 
Geneva  in  the  spring  of  1932.  The  discovery  of  a  political 
leader  in  a  major  country  who  honestly  and  confidently  ex- 
pected great  results  from  this  conference  would  not,  in  1931, 
have  been  an  easy  task. 

Yet  there  remained  some  statesmen,  and  a  multitude  of 
private  citizens,  who  believed  that  effective  reduction  in  arma- 
ments was  so  logical  and  so  desirable,  and  so  certain  to  con- 
tribute to  prosperity  and  peace,  that  only  selfishness  and 
stupidity  could  stand  in  its  way.  They  believed  that  a  frontal 
attack  on  the  problem  might  overwhelm  the  resistance  of 
narrow  nationalism,  and  they  welcomed  the  Disarmament 
Conference  as  a  chance  for  launching  such  an  attack. 


To  Stimson  this  view  never  seemed  realistic ;  his  own  con- 
viction was  that  armaments  were  less  a  cause  than  a  result  of 
international  insecurity,  and  he  was  not  optimistic  about  the 
prospects  for  disarmament  unless  and  until  the  major  political 
difficulties  of  Europe  should  have  been  materially  eased.  The 
crux  of  the  Disarmament  Conference  would  be  land  arma- 
ments— air  forces  were  still  a  somewhat  secondary  element, 
and  naval  strength  had  been  limited  at  the  London  Conference 
almost  beyond  the  point  of  political  practicability.  Land 
armaments  were  almost  wholly  a  European  problem— a  prob- 
lem affecting  the  relations  of  France  and  Italy,  Italy  and 
Yugoslavia,  central  Europe  and  Russia,  and,  most  important 
of  all,  Germany  and  France.  The  principal  concessions  in  any 
land  disarmament  would  have  to  come  from  the  French, 
possessors  of  the  strongest  and  best-equipped  army  on  the  con- 
tinent. What  prospect  there  was  that  France  would  agree  to 
disarm  until  some  at  least  of  the  reasons  for  which- she  kept  an 
army  were  liquidated,  Stimson  was  never  able  to  see.  And  since 
the  United  States  was  in  1931  neither  a  factor  of  any  weight 
whatever  in  land  armaments  themselves  nor,  in  her  own  view, 
a  party  to  the  issues  which  lay  behind  the  existence  of  large 
armies  in  Europe,  Stimson  was  not  eager  to  take  the  lead  in 
urging  prompt  and  plentiful  disarmament.  To  do  so,  he  felt, 
would  merely  obscure  the  realities  of  the  situation,  and  without 
any  compensating  result.  His  position  was  clearly  stated  in 
January,  1931,  in  a  note  to  the  British  Ambassador  refusing 
to  have  the  United  States  assume  the  main  burden  of  prepara- 
tion for  the  Conference. 

"We  feel  that  it  will  be  difficult  at  best  to  produce  a 
successful  result  in  the  Conference,  but  it  will  be  wholly  im- 
possible unless  the  representatives  of  the  leading  Powers  in 
Europe  are  willing  themselves  to  meet  or  arrange  a  series  of 
conversations  beforehand  for  the  purpose  of  preparation. 
Thus  far  there  has  been  no  intimation  whatever  of  willingness 
on  the  part  of  France,  Italy  and  Germany,  the  three  Powers 
most  directly  interested  in  land  disarmament,  to  get  together 
and  grapple  with  the  fundamental  questions  which  lie  at  the 
bottom  of  such  disarmament.  This  was  the  course  which  the 
British  Government  and  the  American  Government  pursued 


in  the  preparation  for  the  London  Naval .  Conference  where 
the  issues  were  much  simpler  and  fewer,  and  we  feel  that  except 
for  that  previous  preparation  we  might  easily  have  failed  in 
the  Naval  Conference.  This  kind  of  preparation  cannot  be 
done  by  third  persons,  but  only  by  the  great  Powers  themselves 
as  principals.  .  .  .m 

And  when  in  1931,  in  fulfillment  of  his  fears,  the  Europeans 
made  no  progress  toward  the  solution  of  the  political  diffi- 
culties, Stimson  became  gloomy  about  the  prospects  of  success 
in  disarmament.  At  the  end  of  the  year  he  refused  a  request 
from  a  friend  to  make  a  speech  about  the  coming  Conference; 
"I  told  him  that  under  the  situation  I  did  not  think  that  any 
member  of  the  Government  could  make  a  real  statement 
without  dashing  the  hopes  of  the  world,  the  situation  being 
that  for  a  year  we  had  been  doing  all  we  could  to  get  the 
nations  who  had  the  future  of  that  conference  in  their  hands  to 
lay  the  foundations  for  a  successful  conference  and  they  hadn't 
done  it."  (Diary,  November  13,  1931) 

Thus  in  Stimson's  view  the  problem  of  disarmament  was 
secondary  to  political  questions.  The  limiting  factors  on  all 
his  work  for  naval  restrictions  had  been  political ;  either  the 
responsible  statesmen  themselves  feared  further  limitations 
because  they  feared  other  nations,  or,  as  so  often  in  the  case  of 
Americans,  they  were  limited  by  what  they  thought — or  knew 
— their  people  would  not  accept. 

Land  disarmament  was  surrounded  by  similar  difficulties, 
European  in  origin.  And  so  Stimson's  main  effort  for  disarma- 
ment in  1931  and  1932  was  a  double  one:  first,  to  persuade  the 
Europeans  to  take  another  and  less  narrow  look  at  their  politi- 
cal difficulties,  and  second,  to  exert  the  limited  strength  of 
his  personal  diplomacy  in  helping  them  to  come  closer  to- 
gether. So  far  as  time  and  his  abilities  permitted,  he  played 
the  role  of  honest  broker,  never  suggesting  a  specific  solution 
but  always  endeavoring  to  show  the  Germans,  the  French, 
and  the  Italians  how  their  attitudes  would  seem  to  the  man  on 
the  other  side.  It  was  a  small  service,  but  it  was  one  in  which 
he  learned  a  good  deal  about  Europe  and  her  political  leaders 
These  labors  were  carried  out  partly  in  Washington  but  prin- 

1  Foreign  Relations   of  the    United  States,    1931,   I,  482. 


cipally  in  two  visits  to  Europe,  one  in  the  summer  of  1931  and 
the  second  nine  months  later,  to  Geneva  in  the  opening  days  of 
the  Disarmament  Conference. 


The  personalities  and  problems  of  Europe  in  1931  and  1932 
were  less  significant  for  themselves  than  for  the  way  in  which 
they  illustrated  the  sort  of  diplomatic  impasse  into  which 
nations  and  leaders  may  work  themselves  when  under  the 
influence  of  nationalism. 

In  Italy  were  Benito  Mussolini  and  Count  Dino  Grandi,  his 
youthful  Foreign  Minister.  It  seemed  ironical,  looking  back, 
but  in  this  period  Mussolini  was  one  of  the  most  ardent  and 
least  inconsistent  advocates  of  disarmament  in  all  Europe. 
When  Stimson  met  him,  he  at  first  played  his  role  as  Duce 
rather  stiffly.  "He  would  turn  to  Vitetti  [the  interpreter]  and 
say  something  in  Italian  and  Vitetti  would  say  in  invariably 
the  same  formula,  'The  Chief  of  the  Government  says  so  and 
so  and  so  and  so.'  So  the  interview  was  decidedly  formal,  more 
or  less  like  Alice  in  Wonderland  in  that  pose.  I  felt  a  little  as 
if  he  might  say  'Off  with  his  head'  like  the  Queen  of  Hearts."2 
But  Mussolini  was  not  then,  as  Stimson  saw  him,  what  he 
later  became,  and  he  was  capable  of  a  less  rigid  attitude.  A 
few  days  later  he  took  the  Stimsons  for  a  motorboat  ride;  "he 
showed  his  attractive  side  and  we  both  liked  him  very  much." 
On  the  question  of  disarmament  he  was  emphatic  that  "Italy 
stood  for  disarmament  and  peace,"  and  he  suited  his  actions, 
in  this  period,  to  those  words  and  not  to  his  others  about  martial 
glory.  Disarmament  would  of  course  have  increased  the  rela- 
tive strength  of  Italy,  so  he  was  surrendering  very  little.  But 
his  conduct  of  negotiations  for  arms  limitation  was  less  fraudu- 
lent than  the  maneuverings  of  communist  Russia  and,  later,  of 
Hitlerite  Germany.  He  was  assisted  by  a  Foreign  Minister 
who  was  too  good  and  wise  a  man  to  be  tolerated  when 
Mussolini  shifted  his  ground.  None  of  the  ministers  with 
whom  Stimson  talked  in  Europe  had  a  clearer  understanding 
of  the  major  problems  of  the  continent  than  Dino  Grandi.  At 

2  Memorandum  of  interview  with  Mussolini,  July  9,  1931. 


London  in  1930  Grand!  had  been  inexperienced  and  not  very 
useful;  a  year  later  he  had  greatly  matured — he  was  candid 
but  tactful  and  extremely  friendly.  It  was  on  his  initiative  and 
as  a  result  of  his  diplomatic  skill  that  later  in  1931  there  was 
proposed  and  accepted  a  one-year  truce  on  all  naval  construc- 
tion— this  was  useful  to  Italy  of  course,  for  she  was  poor,  but 
it  was  useful  to  the  rest  of  the  world  as  well. 

Mussolini  and  Grandi  together  gave  Stimson  a  clear  picture 
of  Italian  policy  in  this  period.  Italy  was  for  peace  and  dis- 
armament; Italy  feared  and  opposed  "French  hegemony"  in 
Europe;  Italy  stood  for  "a  balance  of  power,"  "side  by  side" 
with  Great  Britain;  Italy  was  friendly  to  Weimar  Germany. 
Stimson  warned  Grandi  "that  they  should  nevertheless  be 
careful  that  their  theory  of  the  balance  of  power  did  not  lead 
to  another  alignment  of  two  groups  of  nations  .  .  .  for  that 
would  be  the  surest  way  of  bringing  about  competition  and 
ultimate  war."3  There  is  no  record  of  what  Grandi  said  in 
reply  to  this  warning. 

From  an  American  standpoint,  the  Italians  in  1931  and  1932 
were  of  all  the  great  Continental  powers  the  least  difficult. 
Relations  between  the  two  countries  were  good.  Fascism,  as 
Stimson  pointed  out  to  Grandi,  was  a  form  of  government 
foreign  to  the  American  spirit.  Grandi  explained  that  he  had 
become  a  Fascist  in  the  early  twenties  because  he  saw  the 
whole  framework  of  society  collapsing  under  attack  from  the 
left.  Stimson  replied  that  Americans  could  understand  from 
their  frontier  experience  that  in  a  time  of  lawlessness  there 
might  be  need  for  vigilantes,  but  the  persistence  of  arbitrary 
power  was  something  else  again.  It  held  the  seeds  of  grave 
danger,  not  to  Italy  alone,  but  to  her  neighbors.  Grandi  did 
not  disagree;  he  hoped  the  regime  would  become  less  rigid 
now  that  real  civic  danger  had  disappeared.  The  grim  future 
of  fascism  was  hidden  from  both  men. 

It  was  not  until  1935  that  Mussolini  deserted  the  ranks  of 
the  peacemakers,  and  not  until  1940  that  he  crossed  his  Rubicon 
and  stabbed  the  French  nation  in  the  back.  This  early  Musso- 
lini seemed  to  Stimson  worthy  of  remembrance  in  1947,  f°r 
whatever  his  excesses  and  his  absurdities  as  Italian  dictator,  he 

3  Memorandum  of  conversation  with  Grandi,  July  12,  1931- 


was  in  those  years,  in  his  foreign  policy,  a  sound  and  useful 
leader,  no  more  aggressive  in  his  nationalism  than  many  a 
democratic  statesman.  The  corruption  of  mind  and  spirit  which 
led  to  his  later  criminal  aggression  may  have  been  implicit 
in  his  career  and  course  when  Stimson  knew  him.  If  so,  it 
escaped  the  observation  of  the  traveling  American. 

The  Germans  of  1931  were  equally  interesting,  more  com- 
plex, and  vastly  more  important.  Beaten  in  1918  and  stripped 
on  the  east  of  much  territory  which  was  clearly  German  in  its 
population  and  tradition,  the  Germany  of  1931  had  a  griev- 
ance, and  in  the  view  of  the  Americans  and  the  British,  people 
and  leaders  alike,  much  of  the  German  grievance  was  well 
founded.  At  least  since  1923,  Germany  had  borne  herself 
before  the  world  as  a  good  loser;  she  had  initiated  and  signed 
the  Locarno  Pact,  joined  the  League,  and  paid  her  reparations 
until  further  payment  would  have  meant  general  ruin.  Later 
disclosures  were  to  cast  a  doubt  on  some  at  least  of  this  German 
virtue,  but  the  sentiment  of  the  ordinary  American — and 
Stimson's  sentiment — in  the  summer  of  1931  was  that  the 
Weimar  Republic  deserved  the  assistance  and  support  of  all 
who  loved  peace,  if  only  to  preserve  it  as  a  guardian  against 
that  other  Germany  which  few — and  certainly  not  Stimson — 
had  forgotten. 

The  two  leading  figures  in  German  when  Stimson  came  to 
visit  were  President  von  Hindenburg  and  Chancellor  Heinrich 
Bruening;  with  these  men  Stimson  talked  as  a  soldier.  Presi- 
dent von  Hindenburg  was  a  man  who  had  gained  great  status 
in  the  eyes  of  the  English-speaking  nations  since  the  war,  and 
Stimson's  meeting  with  him  measured  up  to  high  expectations. 
The  interview  was  confined  to  generalities;  Stimson  refused 
to  argue  the  question  of  war  guilt  which  Hindenburg  vigor- 
ously raised — he  was  defending  the  German  Army,  however, 
and  not  the  German  Government.  Hindenburg  seemed  to  be 
determined  to  persist  in  his  guidance  of  the  republic  along 
peaceful  paths,  and  Stimson  was  severely  shocked  the  next  year 
when  he  turned  Germany  over  to  Von  Papen  and  then  to 
Hitler.  He  always  believed  that  these  terrible  steps  were  the 
result  not  of  Prussian  calculation  but  of  simple  senility  and 
ignorant  fear. 


Stimson  and  Bruening  found  that  they  had  been  opposite 
each  other  in  the  same  sector  of  the  lines  in  1918;  it  was  not 
hard  for  both  to  agree  that  war  is  a  poor  method  for  the  settle- 
ment of  disputes.  Bruening  was  prepared  to  admit  some,  though 
not  all,  of  Stimson's  strictures  against  Prussian  militarism;  he 
was  clearly  not  a  militarist  himself.  He  was  under  heavy  pres- 
sure from  the  extremes  of  left  and  right,  and  Stimson  was  struck 
by  a  phenomenon  which  later  became  painfully  familiar: 
extremism  begets  extremism.  In  Bruening's  effort  to  stabilize 
the  German  Republic  his  equal  enemies  were  the  Nazis  and 
the  Communists,  and  on  the  whole  it  was  the  latter  who  were 
more  powerful  in  1931.  Different  though  they  might  be,  the 
Communists  and  the  Nazis  were  united  in  preferring  civil  war 
to  the  success  of  parliamentary  democracy.  Stimson  somewhat 
discounted  Bruening's  description  of  the  menace  of  com- 
munism, but  he  was  quite  persuaded  that  the  Communists  in 
Weimar  Germany  were  not  an  imaginary  danger. 

The  foreign  policy  of  Bruening's  government  was  the  result 
of  its  internal  strains.  Having  won  widespread  support  in  their 
demand  for  a  relaxation  of  the  Versailles  Treaty,  and  possess- 
ing an  unbreakable  case  in  logic  and  sentiment  for  further 
disarmament  by  the  victorious  powers,  the  Germans  were 
beginning  to  lose  patience,  and  there  were  already  signs  of 
the  recrudescence  of  a  more  truculent  attitude.  Stimson  ex- 
pressed himself  forcefully  against  such  a  turn  of  policy. 
Referring  to  the  specific  issue  of  disarmament,  he  urged  Bruen- 
ing not  to  impair  his  "unimpeachable  case  before  the  moral 
opinion  of  the  world"  by  any  "folly  in  the  building  of  pocket 
battleships, "  and  that  for  Germany  "defenselessness  was  the 
best  protection  in  my  opinion  and  would  sooner  or  later  force 
the  [other]  countries  to  reason. m  The  answer  of  Bruening  to 
this  counsel  is  not  recorded. 

To  Stimson  in  1931  it  seemed  as  if  all  Germans,  and  their 
leaders  particularly,  were  gripped  by  fear — fear  of  financial 
collapse,  fear  of  revolution,  fear  of  giving  offense  to  the  naive 
and  innocent  but  very  powerful  Americans,  fear  of  the  im- 
perialistic French.  Nowhere  in  Germany  was  there  a  leader 
who  would  stand  up  and  assert,  within  the  framework  of 

4  Memorandum  of  conversation  with  Bruening,  July  23,  1931. 


democracy,  that  the  Weimar  Republic  proposed  to  endure  and 
prosper.  Bruening  had  personal  courage  but  he  seemed  to 
lack  confidence,  and  Stimson's  diary  records  an  effort  to  give 
warning  of  the  danger,  once  again  from  soldier  to  soldier.  "I 
told  him  that  I  thought  of  this  proposition:  'Suppose  it  was 
1918  and  you  were  commanding  a  machine-gun  patrol  on  a 
dark  night  against  a  powerful  enemy.  Rumors  began  to  come 
in  that  the  outpost  on  your  right  was  driven  back  and  the  out- 
post on  your  left  was  captured  and  your  ammunition  was  run- 
ning low.  Would  you  tell  all  those  rumors  to  your  men?'  He 
said  of  course  not.  I  then  said,  'Why  don't  you  behave  that 
way  now?  That  is  the  way  for  Germany  to  treat  the  present 
crisis.'  "5  Perhaps  the  situation  was  beyond  the  repair  of 
leadership,  even  then,  and  Stimson  was  not  prepared  to  judge 
adversely  a  man  who  behaved  throughout  with  the  personal 
dignity  and  moral  fiber  shown  by  Bruening.  But  he  missed  in 
Germany  the  sort  of  voice  that  Americans  were  used  to  hear- 
ing in  times  of  crisis.  Perhaps  that  sort  of  voice  could  not  be 
heard  or  understood  in  Germany;  he  did  not  know. 

In  any  event,  the  key  to  disarmament,  and  the  key  to  the 
political  adjustment  from  which  disarmament  might  come, 
lay  less  in  Germany  than  in  France,  and  it  was  the  French 
attitudes  that  were  most  difficult  and  distressing  to  Americans 
in  1931  and  1932.  The  policy  of  France  was  security — not 
peace,  or  disarmament,  or  virtue,  or  friendship,  but  security. 
At  its  most  intransigent  this  policy  involved  a  rigid  insistence 
upon  every  last  provision  of  the  Versailles  Treaty;  at  its  most 
reasonable,  it  was  concerned  only  with  the  prevention  of  a  third 
German  war  of  aggression.  In  1931'  the  economic  depression 
had  increased  the  relative  strength  of  France  by  striking  at 
the  financial  stability  of  Austria,  Germany,  and  England. 
The  French  had  then  alienated  other  nations  by  using  this  new 
economic  power  as  a  weapon  of  diplomacy.  In  1931,  as  for  a 
decade  past,  the  French  seemed  poor  winners  to  the  Anglo- 
Saxons,  unforgiving  and  suspicious  toward  their  defeated 
enemies,  demanding  and  even  hostile  toward  their  allies. 
Some  Frenchmen  were  more  co-operative  than  others;  it 
was  one  thing  to  face  Poincare  or  Tardieu,  and  quite  another 

5  Memorandum  of  conversation  with  Bruening,  July  26,  1931. 


to  deal  with  Briand  and  Harriot.  But  as  a  nation,  the  French 
were  determined  not  to  be  caught  out  by  a  new  outbreak  of 
nationalism  in  Germany;  to  the  Anglo-Saxons  they  also  seemed 
determined  to  pursue  a  line  of  policy  perfectly  designed  to 
develop  exactly  the  sort  of  Germany  they  most  feared. 

It  happened  that  Stimson's  visit  to  France  in  1931  occurred 
during  a  period  of  financial  crisis,  and  he  was  unable  to  talk 
much  of  general  European  problems.  It  was  not  a  good  time 
for  candid  and  searching  discussion  in  any  case,  for  the  French 
had  been  annoyed  by  the  Hoover  moratorium  and  the  visiting 
American  Secretary  of  State  was  pointedly  snubbed.  It  was 
not  until  later  in  the  year  that  he  was  able  to  explore  French 
attitudes  in  detail ;  in  October  Premier  Laval  arrived  in 
Washington  for  conversations  looking  toward  a  better  under- 
standing between  the  two  countries. 

Of  all  of  Stimson's  foreign  friends  as  Secretary  of  State, 
the  man  whose  later  career  most  severely  shocked  him  was 
Pierre  Laval.  It  was  not  easy  to  look  back  fairly  at  the  Laval  of 
1931  and  1932,  across  years  in  which  he  recorded  himself  as  a 
villain  like  lago,  glorying  in  unrepentant  treason.  Yet  it  is 
written  in  Stimson's  diary,  as  a  careful  and  sober  judgment 
of  Laval  in  July,  1931,  that  he  showed  himself  "an  able,  force- 
ful man  and  I  think  also  a  sincere  man.  In  his  talks  with  me  he 
was  extremely  frank  and  .  .  .  manifested  the  utmost  friend- 
liness." In  Washington  he  showed  to  even  better  advantage. 
To  his  candor  he  added  good  humor  and  tact,  and  when  Sena- 
tor Borah,  with  his  usual  disregard  for  the  diplomatic  com- 
fort of  the  State  Department,  chose  the  occasion  of  Laval's 
visit  to  let  fly  with  a  speech  denouncing  France  and  all  her 
works,  it  was  Laval's  calmness  and  good  sense  which  permitted 
Stimson  to  bring  the  two  men  together  for  a  conversation  that 
was  amiable  and  witty  on  both  sides. 

But  Laval  was  not  prepared  to  shift  the  policy  of  France. 
He  knew  and  admitted  that  parts  of  the  Versailles  Treaty 
were  nonsense.  He  said  that  "its  effect  upon  Central  Europe 
was  an  absurdity,  but  it  was  a  political  impossibility  now  to 
change  it."  In  fact  from  the  French  point  of  view  any  changes 
at  all  in  the  Versailles  Treaty  were  politically  impossible,  and 
Laval  suggested  that  all  talk  of  revision  be  temporarily  aban- 


doned,  "that  we  obtain  a  political  moratorium,  perhaps  for  ten 
years,  and  that  possibly  in  that  time  French  minds  would  cool 
down  and  possibly  some  solution  could  be  made  then."  Stim- 
son  replied,  after  emphasizing  his  belief  that  German  opinion 
was  reconciled  to  the  French  boundaries  of  1918,  though  not  to 
the  eastern  settlement,  that  "to  me  the  political  moratorium 
without  an  adjustment  was  an  immoral  suggestion,  and  it 
also  flew  in  the  face  of  history.  I  referred  to  the  oscillations  of 
history  back  and  forth  between  Germany  and  France,  and 
pointed  out  that  the  Versailles  Treaty  froze  an  extreme  oscilla- 
tion which  was  unfavorable  to  Germany  at  the  farthest  point  of 
unfavorability.  .  .  .  Any  attempt  to  perpetuate  such  an  oscil- 
lation would  meet  with  failure.  I  frankly  referred  to  the  his- 
tory of  1806  after  the  battle  of  Jena.  France  had  never  been 
so  strong  nor  Germany  so  prostrate.  Yet  in  eight  years  had 
come  the  battle  of  Leipzig  and  the  overthrow  of  France."0 
There  is  no  record  that  Laval  replied  to  this  comment. 

Thus  in  his  conversations  with  the  leaders  of  Europe  Stim- 
son  had  been  able  to  give  them  all  frank  and  friendly  advice 
which  seemed  to  him  sound  and  persuasive  even  after  fifteen 
years.  The  Italians  gained  nothing  by  their  opposition  to 
France;  the  Germans  of  the  Weimar  Republic  gained  nothing 
by  their  impatience  and  their  lack  of  confidence;  the  French 
lost  to  force  a  hundred  times  what  they  might  have  freely  con- 
ceded to  argument.  And  it  seemed  clear  to  him  that  the  French 
particularly  had  still  held  it  in  their  power,  in  1931,  to  extend 
the  necessary  hand  of  reconciliation  to  a  relatively  peaceful 
Germany.  What  Laval  had  called  a  political  impossibility 
was  in  fact  the  only  course  available  to  France  under  the 
conditions  of  1931,  if  she  wished  to  preserve  the  friendship 
not  only  of  Germany  but  of  Great  Britain  and  the  United 

If  our  analysis  could  end  here,  American  readers  might 
escape  with  the  comfortable  feeling  that  an  American  Secre- 
tary of  State  had  duly  fulfilled  his  traditional  function  of 
benignly  disseminating  good  advice  to  blind  and  selfish 
foreigners.  But  the  main  purpose  of  what  has  been  written 
above  is  merely  to  set  the  background  for  another  failure, 

0  Memorandum   of  conversation  with  Laval,   October   23,   1931. 


one  which  In  some  ways  underlay  all  the  others,  a  failure  on 
the  part  of  the  United  States  of  America. 

To  each  of  the  nations  of  Europe  Stimson  was  able  to  give  a 
warning  that  that  nation's  policy  was  incomplete.  It  need  not  be 
supposed  that  the  Europeans  were  unable  to  reciprocate.  Pierre 
Laval,  for  example,  talked  with  Mr.  Hoover  and  Stimson 
about  disarmament.  France,  he  remarked,  insisted  on  security 
— it  was  the  French  way  of  saying  what  Stimson  himself  often 
said,  that  political  settlement  must  come  before  any  general 
abandonment  of  arms.  But  arms  were  not  in  the  French  view 
the  only  source  of  security;  if  the  integrity  of  France — and 
other  countries — could  be  adequately  guaranteed  by  other 
means,  France  would  find  it  easier  to  disarm.  And  what  Laval 
asked  of  the  United  States  was  not  very  much — not  an  alliance, 
not  a  promise  to  join  in  resisting  aggression,  not  even  a  com- 
mitment to  maintain  benevolent  neutrality.  What  Laval  asked 
was  what  Briand  had  asked  before  him,  but  unlike  Briand, 
Laval  connected  his  request  with  disarmament.  He  asked  a 
consultative  pact — a  promise  to  consult  with  France  in  the 
event  of  a  breach  of  the  Kellogg  Pact.  He  said  that  such  a 
promise  "would  be  taken  in  France  as  a  great  gesture  which 
would  help  very  much  the  possibility  of  any  disarmament." 
But  when  Laval  turned  to  Mr.  Hoover  to  ask  what  he  thought 
of  this  idea,  "the  President  replied  at  once  that  he  thought  it 
was  a  political  impossibility."  There  were  undertones  of  calcu- 
lation in  what  Laval  suggested;  the  consultative  pact  might 
have  meant  more  to  Frenchmen  than  it  seemed  to,  and  it 
might  have  committed  the  United  States  to  more  than  con- 
sultation— this  was  an  old  and  well-worn  issue  by  1931.  But 
the  phrasing  of  Stimson's  record  is  striking.  Laval  had  asked 
of  the  United  States  a  concession  that  must  have  seemed  to 
him  small  indeed  compared  to  Stimson's  suggesting  that  he 
consent  to  revision  of  the  Versailles  Treaty.  He  had  received 
from  the  American  President  the  same  helpless  reply  that  he 
had  himself  given  earlier — it  was  a  "political  impossibility." 
And  Mr.  Hoover  had  spoken  "at  once,"  with  the  certainty  of 
intimate  knowledge. 

Perhaps  no  major  nation  was  ever  asked  for  a  smaller  con- 
tribution to  peace  and  disarmament.  In  the  light  of  what  had 


happened  in  1917  and  what  happened  again  in  1941,  the 
American  refusal  to  "consult"  with  other  nations  in  the  event 
of  threatened  war  seems  nothing  short  of  madness.  Whatever 
the  occult  and  dangerous  implication  of  consultation,  what- 
ever the  possible  entanglement  involved  in  an  agreement  to 
talk,  it  seemed  flatly  incredible  that  the  American  people  could 
so  far  have  forgotten  the  realities  of  life  as  to  believe  that  those 
dangers  could  outweigh  the  other  danger — general  war.  Yet 
there  it  was;  a  consultative  pact  was  indeed  a  "political 
impossibility,"  as  Mr.  Hoover  said,  and  as  Stimson  himself 
had  said  in  London  a  year  before.  Anything,  of  whatever 
nature,  which  implied  the  slightest  responsibility  for  European 
peace,  was  anathema  to  the  American  people  and  doubly 
damned  in  the  eyes  of  their  watchdogs  in  the  American  Senate. 
The  full  meaning  of  this  American  position  can  only  be 
understood  if  we  consider  briefly  how  it  appeared  to  Euro- 
peans. To  see  the  European  view  in  its  full  fury,  it  is  necessary 
to  turn  to  French  writers  of  the  twenties  and  thirties,  from  the 
ancient  volcano  Clemenceau  on  down,  but  Stimson's  diary  con- 
tains an  adequate  summary  from  a  cooler  source :  his  counselor 
of  forty  years,  Elihu  Root.  "He  was  getting  afraid  [that]  the 
nations  of  Europe  were  crystallizing  this  hostility  against  us, 
and  he  summed  up  this  as  the  various  counts  of  their  indict- 
ment against  us.  First,  that  we  had  made  a  lot  of  money  out 
of  the  war  and  then  insisted  upon  a  rigid  payment  of  the  debts 
which  they  owed  us  when  they  were  poor  and  hard  up.  Second, 
that  the  League  of  Nations  was  their  engine  to  preserve  peace 
and,  although  we  had  designed  it,  we  had  refused  to  join  it. 
Third,  the  same  way  with  the  World  Court.  It  was  our  baby 
but  we  refused  to  join  it.  It  was  another  engine  of  peace,  which 
we  had  turned  our  back  on.  Fourth,  that  we  insisted  upon  re- 
taining the  doctrine  of  neutrality  and  would  thus,  in  case  of  any 
new  war,  make  ourselves  the  arsenal  for  the  combatants  and 
also  make  money  out  of  it,  and  thereby  would  make  it  impos- 
sible to  carry  out  any  arrangement  for  peace  which  the  Euro- 
pean nations  might  have  succeeded  in  making,  like  the  ques- 
tion of  embargo  against  an  aggressor."  (Diary,  December  12, 
1930)  Mr.  Root  had  a  fifth  point  on  the  technicalities  of  dis- 


armament,  and  Stimson  defended  the  American  stand  on  this 
last  point. 

The  first  point,  about  money-making  and  war  debts,  was 
framed  in  somewhat  prejudicial  language,  but  it  undoubtedly 
represented  a  widely  held  opinion.  And  counts  two,  three,  and 
four  of  Mr.  Root's  indictment  were  unanswerable,  as  Stimson 
saw  it.  The  American  nation  had  fought  a  war  to  "make  the 
world  safe  for  democracy"  and  had  then  proceeded  to  reject 
all  responsibility  for  maintaining  any  safety  whatever.  To  the 
French  particularly,  feeling  as  they  did  that  Germany  was  an 
enduring  menace,  and  that  the  American  desertion  had  shifted 
to  France  the  burden  of  maintaining  law  and  order,  it  seemed 
as  if  the  United  States  was  the  primary  responsible  party  in 
the  breakdown  of  the  Versailles  settlement.  If  the  Ameri- 
cans were  annoyed  when  France  stubbornly  refused  to  make 
concessions  to  the  Weimar  Republic,  the  Fr.ench  were  infuri- 
ated when  the  faithless  and  irresponsible  Americans  right- 
eously demanded  that  France  should  disarm. 

The  feeling  between  France  and  the  United  States  was  dupli- 
cated with  some  modifications  between  France  and  Great 
Britain.  The  United  Kingdom  too,  in  1931,  was  unwilling 
to  give  further  guarantees  to  the  French.  The  British  position 
was  much  less  culpable  than  the  American,  of  course,  because 
Great  Britain  was  already  committed  in  large  measure  by  the 
League  Covenant  and  Locarno.  But,  the  question  of  blame 
apart,  the  situation  was  the  same. 

Indeed  all  the  major  powers  by  1931  had  entrenched  them- 
selves in  self-righteous  attitudes  which  pointed  the  finger  of 
responsibility  at  someone  else.  Each  one  was  in  large  measure 
right.  More  than  that,  the  cooler  statesmen  of  each  nation 
knew  what  concession,  in  abstract  fairness,  their  own  countries 
should  make.  Only  they  knew  too — or  thought  they  knew — that 
these  concessions  were  "political  impossibilities." 

This  was  the  situation  that  Stimson  had  seen  at  firsthand, 
and  had  lived  with  for  almost  a  year,  when  he  remarked  to 
Bruening  in  Geneva,  on  April  17,  1932,  "that  the  situation 
in  the  world  seemed  to  me  like  the  unfolding  of  a  great  Greek 
tragedy,  where  we  could  see  the  march  of  events  and  know 


what  ought  to  be  done,  but  [seemed]  to  be  powerless  to  pre- 
vent its  marching  to  its  grim  conclusion." 

The  unrolling  of  a  Greek  tragedy  may  in  the  end  purge  the 
emotions  of  the  beholder,  but  its  working  out  is  seldom  pleas- 
ant for  the  protagonists.  It  was  probably  fortunate  for  Stimson, 
therefore,  that  he  was  constitutionally  unfitted  to  play  a  con- 
sciously tragic  role.  All  his  life  he  had  been  a  man  of  action, 
and  in  1931  and  1932  he  made  virtues  of  necessities  in  most  of 
what  he  did  in  foreign  relations.  Reduced  to  the  role  of  honest 
broker,  he  told  himself  and  others  that  this  was  a  useful 
activity,  and  even  in  1947  he  remained  persuaded  that  it  was 
the  best  he  could  do,  given  the  circumstances.  In  minor  matters, 
furthermore,  it  produced  visible  results — the  standstill  agree- 
ment of  July,  1931,  was  a  small  thing,  but  Stimson  was  proud 
of  his  part  in  it.  Similarly  his  work  at  Geneva,  in  1932,  pro- 
duced no  disarmament,  but  he  believed  that  it  improved  the 
atmosphere.  Compared  to  what  it  might  have  been  if  the 
American  nation  had  chosen  otherwise,  the  influence  of  an 
American  Secretary  of  State  was  small,  but  it  was  much 
greater  than  nothing  at  all. 

Fortunately  for  his  peace  of  mind  in  1947,  the  record  of  his 
service  as  Secretary  of  State  did  not  indicate  that  he  had  been 
wholly  converted  to  false  hopes.  He  had  done  what  he  could 
to  help  Europe  keep  her  peace,  within  the  boundaries  of  exist- 
ing American  opinion.  But  he  had  also  done  what  he  could 
to  enlarge  those  boundaries,  although  in  this  area  the  powers 
of  a  Secretary  of  State  are  limited.  His  fight  for  the  World 
Court  was  a  typical  part  of  this  second  battle ;  a  more  striking 
and  personal  effort  is  to  be  found  in  a  speech  on  the  Kellogg 
Pact  delivered  on  August  8,  1932,  before  the  Council  on 
Foreign  Relations.  The  bulk  of  this  speech  was  devoted  to  a 
study  of  the  pact  as  it  had  been  applied  to  the  Far  East,  but  it 
contained  a  paragraph  which  was  designed  to  give  to  the 
leaders  of  France  some  part  at  least  of  what  they  had  been  ask- 
ing for. 

"Another  consequence  which  follows  this  development  of 
the  Briand-Kellogg  Treaty  ...  is  that  consultation  between 
the  signatories  of  the  pact  when  faced  with  the  threat  of  its 
violation  becomes  inevitable.  Any  effective  invocation  of  the 


power  of  world  opinion  postulates  discussion  and  consultation. 
As  long  as  the  signatories  of  the  pact  support  the  policy  which 
the  American  Government  has  endeavored  to  establish  during 
the  past  three  years  of  arousing  a  united  and  living  spirit  of 
public  opinion  as  a  sanction  of  the  pact  .  .  .  consultations 
will  take  place  as  an  incident  to  the  unification  of  that  opinion. 
The  course  which  was  followed  in  the  Sino-Japanese  contro- 
versy last  winter  shows  how  naturally  and  inevitably  consulta- 
tion was  resorted  to  in  this  effort  to  mobilize  the  public  opinion 
of  the  world." 

This  assurance  was  strictly  limited  to  consultation  for  the 
exercise  of  moral  suasion  by  involving  "the  power  of  world 
opinion" ;  compared  to  the  sort  of  consultative  pact  the  French 
would  have  liked,  it  offered  perhaps  very  little.  But  it  offered 
more  than  Americans  had  felt  free  to  give  before,  and  it  was 
reinforced  by  the  fact  that  Stimson  was  able  to  point  out  that 
"each  of  the  platforms  recently  adopted  by  the  two  great  party 
conventions  at  Chicago  contains  planks  endorsing  the  principle 
of  consultation."  This  result  had  been  achieved  by  earnest  and 
nonpartisan  negotiations  in  which  Stimson  had  played  a  major 
role,  and  the  principle  as  he  expressed  it  in  the  speech  of 
August  8  was  one  which  he  had  worked  out  in  long  delibera- 
tion over  the  problem  of  widening  the  American  zone  of 
influence  without  overstepping  what  the  people  and  the  Presi- 
dent as  their  agent  would  permit.  It  seemed  to  him  worthy  of 
notice  that  the  principle  of  consultation  marked  a  position  so 
advanced  that  even  under  Franklin  Roosevelt  it  was  allowed 
to  lapse. 

But  for  any  useful  effect  on  disarmament,  it  was  already 
too  late.  Already  in  August,  1932,  it  seemed  clear  that  the  race 
against  time  in  Germany  was  being  lost.  Bruening  had  fallen 
in  May;  by  August  Von  Papen's  government  had  huffily  with- 
drawn from  the  Disarmament  Conference.  By  September 
Stimson  was  so  seriously  concerned  by  the  behavior  of  the 
German  Government  that  on  September  8,  a  day  of  ambassa- 
dorial calls  on  the  Secretary,  "when  the  German  came  in,  I 
gave  him  the  devil."  The  "old  Prussian  spirit"  was  abroad 
again,  and  the  postwar  period  was  ending  in  failure.  Stimson's 
concession  to  France,  like  Herriot's  concession  to  Germany,  had 


been  too  little  and  too  late.  If  circumstance  and  national  atti- 
tudes were  more  at  fault  than  individuals,  the  failure  neverthe- 
less remained. 

Stimson  was  not  content,  in  1947,  to  rest  on  his  picture  of  a 
Greek  tragedy,  drawn  in  1932.  Greek  tragedy  is  the  tragedy 
of  the  inevitable,  and  the  tragedy  of  the  early  1 930*8  was  to 
Stimson  always  rather  a  tragedy  of  foolish  nations  and  inade- 
quate statesmen.  The  besetting  sin  of  the  nations  was  nation- 
alism ;  that  of  the  statesmen  was  timidity.  The  four  critically 
important  powers  in  the  last  great  attempt  to  achieve  disarma- 
ment and  a  true  sense  of  peace  were  Germany,  France,  Great 
Britain,  and  the  United  States.  Each  of  them  had  it  in  its 
power,  single-handed,  to  break  the  log  jam  and  insure  success. 
Germany  could  have  done  it  by  accepting  her  inferiority  in 
arms ;  France  could  have  done  it  by  voluntarily  reducing  her 
land  army;  Great  Britain  could  have  done  it  by  giving  the 
French  an  unconditional  guarantee  of  alliance  against  aggres- 
sion; the  United  States  by  a  much  smaller  offer  to  France 
could  have  achieved  the  same  result.  Each  of  the  four  nations 
later  took,  voluntarily  or  involuntarily,  exactly  the  course 
which  in  1932  was  inconceivable  to  each  of  them,  and  did  so 
in  circumstances  vastly  more  unpleasant  than  those  of  1932. 

But  nationalism  was  a  sentiment  too  deep-rooted  for  its 
unhappy  aspects  to  be  exorcised  in  a  day,  and  Stimson  never 
wondered  that  no  nation  stepped  out  boldly  to  cut  by  a  single 
stroke  the  Gordian  knot  of  disarmament.  Such  strokes  are  rare. 
What  did  seem  to  him  disappointing  was  that  he  and  his 
colleagues  had  been  unable  to  perform  the  ordinary  task  of 
statesmanship;  they  had  not  found  a  way  to  untie  the  knot. 
What  could  have  been  done  in  one  big  stroke  by  one  nation 
could  also  have  been  done  in  a  large  number  of  little  steps,  all 
four  powers  contributing  in  reasonable  proportion.  The  goal 
of  statesmanship  in  1931  was  stable  peace.  To  reach  that  goal 
the  statesmen  were  required  to  make  some  inroads  on  the  terri- 
tory held  by  nationalism.  But  they  were  not  without  weapons ; 
the  peoples  who  were  so  full  of  national  pride  were  also  full 
of  a  deep  yearning  for  peace.  Surely  it  was  the  function  of 
statesmanship  to  show  these  peoples  that  peace  depended  in 
some  part  upon  the  doing  of  things  that  nationalism  denounced. 


Surely  it  was  the  duty  of  the  democratic  leaders  to  fight  and 
educate,  and  not  to  surrender  to  the  simple  formula  of  "polit- 
ical impossibility." 

Some  of  the  responsible  statesmen  were  as  narrow  as  any  oi 
their  nations;  some  were  embittered  by  real  or  fancied  hurts 
from  other  lands.  But  taken  together,  especially  when  their 
expert  advisers  are  included,  they  knew  what  should  be  done. 

Stimson  could  not  avoid  the  conclusion  that  the  tragedy  of 
1932  in  the  politics  of  Europe  was  a  tragedy  not  of  Greek 
inevitability,  nor  even  of  the  vast  human  error  of  national- 
istic pride.  It  was  a  tragedy  of  the  timidity  of  statesmanship. 
He  was  prepared  in  1947  to  stand  by  an  outburst  recorded  on 
November  30,  1932,  in  protest  against  financial  troubles;  it  was 
an  outburst  of  general  applicability,  and  it  fitted  with  par- 
ticular force  the  political  failure  in  Europe:  "I  broke  out 
and  said  that  I  was  living  in  a  world  where  all  my  troubles 
came  from  the  same  thing,  not  only  in  finance  but  in  all  matters, 
where  we  are  constantly  shut  in  by  the  timidity  of  governments 
making  certain  great  decisions,  for  fear  that  some  adminis- 
tration will  be  overthrown.  ...  I  said  that  the  time  had  come 
when  somebody  has  got  to  show  some  guts." 


Out  Again 

I.      THE  CAMPAIGN  OF    1932 

FAR-REACHING  political  failure  in  Europe  and  un- 
blocked aggression  in  Asia  might  be  the  principal  concerns 
of  the  American  State  Department  in  1932,  but  for  the  Amer- 
ican people  and  most  of  the  administration  in  Washington 
the  important  question  of  the  year  was  the  Presidential  elec- 
tion. Gradually  during  the  summer  and  autumn  of  the  year 
Stimson  himself  was  drawn  into  the  campaign,  until  in  Oc- 
tober and  early  November  it  was  his  absorbing  task.  It  was 
not  a  pleasant  campaign  or  an  easy  one ;  from  the  beginning 
defeat  was  so  clearly  probable  that  it  was  uphill  work  all  the 

The  primary  and  overriding  issue  of  the  campaign,  of 
course,  was  the  depression.  The  Republicans  could  not  escape 
from  the  fact  that  they  had  promised  prosperity  in  1928  and 
had  instead  held  the  Presidency  through  three  years  of  deep- 
ening depression.  As  Stimson  said  in  a  campaign  speech,  "It 
is  a  natural  trait  of  human  nature  in  a  democracy  to  visit  upon 
its  officials  the  responsibility  for  the  consequences  when  mat- 
ters go  wrong."  This  broad  basic  reaction  against  Mr.  Hoover 
was  inescapable. 

There  was  a  further  difficulty  in  the  pernicious  skill  with 
which  the  Democratic  National  Committee  had  spent  time 
and  money  to  blacken  the  President's  reputation.  This  cam- 
paign of  defamation,  continuous  through  Mr.  Hoover's  term, 
was  as  unscrupulous  as  it  was  clever;  it  was  perhaps  equaled 
only  by  the  attacks  made  on  Franklin  Roosevelt  by  Repub- 
lican agents  in  later  years.  But  unlike  Mr.  Roosevelt,  President. 


OUT  AGAIN  283 

Hoover  lacked  zest  for  the  manipulation  of  opinion.  He  was 
shy  and  sensitive  personally;  and  he  regarded  his  office  with 
such  respect  that  he  considered  political  polemics  improper. 
He  worked  at  his  job  with  an  intensity  and  devotion  unequaled 
in  Stimson's  experience,  but  he  seemed  unable  to  present  him- 
self to  the  people  as  a  confident,  fighting,  democratic  leader. 
In  the  battle  of  opinion  he  was  almost  from  the  beginning 
placed  on  the  defensive. 

Nor  was  his  position  made  easier  by  the  existence  of  a  hos- 
tile Congress.  The  election  of  1930  had  put  the  opposition 
in  control  of  both  houses,  and  Mr.  Hoover  found  himself  the 
victim  of  what  Stimson  considered  the  most  unfortunate  single 
aspect  of  the  American  constitutional  system.  Like  Mr.  Taft 
and  Mr.  Wilson  before  him,  he  learned  that  failures  resulting 
from  an  impasse  between  President  and  Congress  are  usually 
held  against  the  President. 

And  finally,  Mr.  Hoover  was  up  against  a  candidate  who 
had  already  demonstrated  phenomenal  power  as  a  vote  getter 
in  two  elections  in  New  York  and  who  was  to  prove  himself, 
in  four  successive  Presidential  contests,  the  greatest  campaigner 
in  American  political  history. 

To  Stimson  the  basic  issue  of  the  campaign  was  not  the 
depression  but  the  principles  of  President  Hoover.  He  believed 
that  the  President  had  labored  with  great  skill  and  energy  to 
meet  the  depression  with  sound  and  constructive  remedies, 
and  that  he  had  shown  both  courage  and  wisdom  in  resisting 
the  "treasury  raids"  projected  by  Democratic  leaders  in  Con- 
gress. He  was  in  full  agreement  with  Mr.  Hoover's  insistence 
that  the  leadership  of  the  Federal  Government  must  be  used  to 
reinforce  and  not  to  undermine  the  functions  of  state  and  local 
government.  He  fully  agreed  with  the  President's  doctrine  of 
a  balanced  budget,  local  relief,  and  sound  money.  He  knew  that 
Mr.  Hoover  had  no  intention  whatever  of  permitting  unneces- 
sary human  suffering  in  the  depression,  but  he  shared  his 
conviction  that  federal  action  to  relieve  this  suffering  must  be 
a  last  and  not  a  first  resort.  As  he  listened  to  the  President's 
acceptance  speech  on  August  n,  1932,  he  was  convinced  that 
it  was  "a  great  state  document."  "The  contrast  between  this 
tangible  evidence,  of  a  faithful  President  wfrp  had  worked  tp^ 


the  limit  for  the  people  during  this  depression,  on  the  one  side, 
and  the  untried  rather  flippant  young  man  who  is  trying  to 
take  his  place,  on  the  other,  became  so  evident  to  me  that  it 
seemed  as  if  really  the  American  people  and  their  power  of 
choice  were  on  trial  rather  than  the  two  candidates."  (Diary, 
August  n,  1932) 

Since  this  was  Stimson's  feeling,  he  was  naturally  eager  to 
give  his  full  support  to  Mr.  Hoover's  campaign ;  he  had,  how- 
ever, one  reservation,  which  involved  him  in  the  unpleasant 
duty  of  seeming  to  disappoint  the  President  in  his  time  of 
greatest  need.  Stimson  did  not  wish  to  attack  the  Democratic 
candidate ;  he  considered  such  partisan  polemics  improper  in 
a  Secretary  of  State,  and  he  further  believed  that  the  proper 
strategy  of  Mr.  Hoover's  campaign  was  the  positive  assertion 
of  achievement  and  purpose.  It  was,  therefore,  a  "dreadful 
shock"  when  he  was  told  by  the  President  that  "somebody  from 
New  York  ought  to  make  a  speech  attacking  the  Roosevelt 
administration  and  showing  that  he  was  a  failure  as  an  admin- 
istrator, and  that  I  was  the  best  one  to  do  it.  ...  For  two 
years  I  have  been  making  up  my  mind  as  firmly  as  possible 
that  I  would  not  go  into  this  campaign  on  an  attacking  basis, 
or  one  which  would  drag  me  into  personalities.  Two  years  ago 
...  I  was  dragged  into  an  attack  on  Roosevelt  in  the  [guber- 
natorial] campaign,  and  I  have  regretted  it  ever  since.  I  told 
all  this  to  the  President  and  frankly  told  him  I  wouldn't  do 
it.  I  told  him  my  metier  was  to  make  a  constructive  speech 
about  him  and  not  Roosevelt.  ...  It  meant  that  I  was  turning 
down  the  first  request  he  had  made  of  me  in  regard  to  the  cam- 
paign and  it  made  me  feel  very  badly."  (Diary,  September  6, 

J93  2) 
The  pressure  for  an  attack  on  the  Democratic  candidate 

continued,  however,  and  in  the  end  Stimson  felt  it  necessary 
to  recede  somewhat  from  his  initial  position.  He  refrained 
from  any  direct  attack  on  Roosevelt,  but  he  made  speeches 
contrasting  the  two  candidates  in  a  manner  very  favorable 
to  Mr.  Hoover.  Even  this  he  thought  a  mistake,  not  because 
he  did  not  prefer  the  President  to  his  opponent,  but  because 
"to  use  the  great  office  of  Secretary  of  State  to  launch  a  purely 

OUT  AGAIN  285 

personal  attack  on  Roosevelt  is  quite  inconsistent  with  my 
dignity  and  that  of  the  office." 

What  Stimson  much  preferred,  and  undertook  with  zest,  was 
the  task  of  presenting  his  personal  picture  of  Mr.  Hoover.  He 
believed  that  the  President,  cooped  up  in  the  White  House 
with  his  hundreds  of  pressing  duties,  had  never  been  really 
understood  by  the  people.  So  in  his  first  major  campaign 
speech  Stimson's  most  powerful  paragraphs  were  devoted  to 
a  description  of  the  great  qualities  of  his  chief: 

"I  cannot  close  without  trying  to  give  you  at  least  an  impres- 
sion of  the  personal  character  of  his  leadership.  I  have  stood 
beside  him  for  over  three  years  and  have  witnessed  it  at  short 
range.  Mr.  Hoover  is  no  perfunctory  leader.  .  .  .  His  is  a 
keen  and  ever-ready  power  of  analysis,  his  a  well-poised  and 
balanced  intelligence.  Behind  those  qualities  is  the  most  un- 
ceasing mental  energy  with  which  I  have  ever  come  in  con- 
tact. And  again,  behind  that,  although  they  are  shy  and  never 
paraded  in  official  discussions,  lies  the  guidance  of  the  human 
sympathies  of  one  of  the  most  sensitive  and  tender  natures 
which  has  ever  wielded  such  official  power.  .  .  .  The  foreign 
policy  of  the  United  States  has  received  the  constant  benefit 
of  his  own  wide  experience  in  and  knowledge  of  the  affairs 
of  other  nations,  as  well  as  of  the  remarkable  personal  powers 
to  which  I  have  alluded.  .  .  .m 

This  was  an  estimate  made  in  the  heat  of  a  campaign,  but 
as  a  statement  of  Mr.  Hoover's  personal  qualities  Stimson  in 
1947  thought  it  precise.  It  was  one  of  the  misfortunes  of 
politics  that  those  great  qualities  were  not  adequately  under- 
stood and  recognized  by  many  Americans.  "The  campaign 
is  no  longer  a  campaign  of  principles.  It  is  a  campaign  on  the 
President's  personality,  and  the  only  person  who  can  speak 
effectively  is  the  President.  He  has  been  suffering  from  the 
fact  that  he  has  stayed  in  Washington  so  long  that  the  people 
have  lost  touch  with  him,  and  he  has  become  a  shadow.  .  .  . 
I  have  said  this  to  him  again  and  again  and  again."  (Diary 
October  4,  1932)  When  Mr.  Hoover  did  at  last  take  his  case  to 
the  country  in  a  series  of  fighting  speeches,  Stimson  found 
their  effect  "magical,"  though  probably  "too  late." 

1  Radio  address  from  the  Union  League  Club,  Philadelphia,  October  i,  1932. 


While  his  estimate  of  Mr.  Hoover's  character  seemed  to  him 
to  stand  up  under  the  passage  of  time,  Stimson  could  not  say 
as  much  for  some  of  his  other  campaign  utterances.  He  was 
aware  of  the  way  in  which  a  political  -campaign  engages  the 
partisan  enthusiasm  of  speechmakers,  but  he  was  nevertheless 
astonished  'and  pained  to  find  that  in  1932  he  had  been  able  to 
make  a  vigorous  defense  of  the  Hawley-Smoot  tariff  and  a 
strong  attack  on  Democratic  low-tariff  policy.  Loyalty  to  Mr, 
Hoover,  combined  with  the  campaigner's  desire  to  make  the 
best  of  everything,  excused  in  his  eyes  a  number  of  other  argu- 
ments used  in  1932,  but  to  defend  the  tariff  was  going  a  bit  far 
for  one  of  his  basic  beliefs.  He  could  not  attack  it,  but  he  might 
properly  have  kept  still.  £A  man's  campaign  speeches,'  he 
remarked  when  he  looked  back  at  1932,  'are  no  proper  subject 
for  the  study  of  a  friendly  biographer.' 

Except  for  the  tariff,  problems  of  foreign  policy  fortunately 
did  not  become  important  campaign  issues.  There  was  a  short 
flurry  among  ardent  politicians  over  the  State  Department's 
firmness  in  opposing  the  resurgent  nationalism  of  Germany; 
the  "German  vote"  was  regarded  as  dangerous.  But  Stimson 
stood  his  ground  and  the  President  did  not  interfere.  The 
war  debts  did  not  become,  an  urgent  subject,  though  both 
parties  took  stands  that  seemed  narrow  and  unrealistic  to 
Stimson.  Everyone  was  in  favor  of  disarmament,  and  the  ad- 
ministration's stand  on  Manchuria  seemed  to  be  accepted  as  a 
source  of  some  political  strength.  The  campaign  was  fought 
on  domestic  issues — on  Mr.  Hoover's  record  and  on  prohibi- 

This  last  topic  was  one  which  concerned  Stimson  as  much 
as  any  on  the  political  scene.  Though  he  was  a  personal  ab- 
stainer for  most  of  his  life,  he  did  not  believe  in  national  pro- 
hibition. But  he  had  rigorously  obeyed  the  law  during  the  dry 
years,  and  he  thought  that  outright  repeal  of  the  Eighteenth 
Amendment  was  of  itself  no  solution  to  the  problem  of  liquor. 
To  escape  from  the  speak-easy  in  order  to  return  to  the  saloon 
seemed  to  him  not  very  helpful,  and  he  therefore  believed 
that  the  Federal  Government — as  the  only  effective  agency — 
should  retain  the  power  of  regulating  the  liquor  trade.  This 
position  was  essentially  the  same  as  that  adopted  by  the  Repub- 

OUT  AGAIN  287 

lican  party  in  an  effort  to  satisfy  both  the  drys  and  the  wets,  so 
Stimson  was  able  to  give  his  genuine  support  to  a  plank  that 
many  regarded  as  a  flagrant  straddle.  He  spoke  in  defense  of 
the  Republican  position  in  a  full-length  address  broadcast 
from  Washington  on  October  29,  and  he  continued  to  believe 
even  after  repeal  that  the  last  word  in  liquor  control  had  not 
been  spoken.  Ideally  the  problem  belonged  to  the  several  states, 
but  in  1947  the  situation  on  many  state  and  county  lines,  wet  on 
one  side  and  dry  on  the  other,  seemed  to  demonstrate  that  un- 
regulated local  option  had  its  grave  drawbacks.  But  the  basic 
difficulty  in  the  liquor  problem,  during  and  after  prohibition, 
as  Stimson  saw  it,  was  the  difficulty  of  persuading  Americans 
as  a  people  to  regulate  by  moderate  and  not  by  extreme  con- 
trols. The  fanatical  drys  and  liquor  excesses  remained  inex- 
tricably linked  in  many  parts  of  the  country. 

As  the  campaign  progressed  Stimson  experienced  the  alter- 
nations of  gloom  and  fleeting  hopes  which  are  the  lot  of  party 
leaders  in  a  losing  contest.  By  the  eve  of  election  he  was  per- 
suaded that  all  was  lost,  and  he  was  also  persuaded  that  this 
was  a  most  terrible  prospect.  Fie  believed  that  the  "people  of 
sobriety  and  intelligence  and  responsibility"  were  on  Mr. 
Hoover's  side,  but  he  knew  that  "the  immense  undercurrent 
is  against  us."  And  in  his  really  unhappy  moments,  he  was 
capable  of  such  an  outburst  as  this:  "The  people  of  the  country 
are  in  a  humor  where  they  don't  want  to  hear  any  reason.  .  .  . 
They  want  a  change,  and  I  think  they  are  going  to  get  it,  but 
if  they  do  get  it,  in  less  than  a  year  they  will  be  the  sickest 
country  that  ever  walked  the  face  of  this  earth  or  else  I  miss 
my  guess."  (Diary,  September  22,  1932) 

On  November  8,  in  a  landslide  which  left  Mr.  Hoover  the 
winner  in  only  six  states,  the  people  of  the  United  States  got 
their  change.  And  so  did  Stimson,  for  with  the  announcement 
of  the  verdict  he  threw  aside  his  cares  and  fears  like  a  worn- 
out  mantle.  The  campaign  had  been  disheartening,  but  it  was 
over.  There  was  no  need  for  second-guessing  on  the  Repub- 
lican effort,  for  "the  result  is  so  overwhelming  that  it  removes 
all  of  the  personal  responsibility  from  it."  As  for  the  new 
administration  which  had  seemed  so  dangerous,  "the  one  prob- 
lem that  comes  up  in  my  mind  is  the  problem  of  co-operation 


for  the  future  in  order  that  the  nation  shall  not  lose  by  the 
transition."  (Diary,  November  8,  '1932) 


Compared  to  the  months  before  the  election,  the  four  months 
between  the  defeat  of  Mr.  Hoover  and  the  inauguration  of  Mr. 
Roosevelt  were  for  Stimson  lighthearted  and  easy.  They  were 
months  full  of  complex  and  unpleasant  problems,  but  at  the 
end  of  them  freedom  beckoned,  and  Stimson  was  to  find  much 
satisfaction  in  the  treatment  he  received  from  Republicans 
and  Democrats  alike  during  the  interim  period. 

The  change  in  his  mental  attitude  was  recorded  at  length 
on  November  9: 

"I  had  a  good  sleep  and  awoke  the  morning  after  the  elec- 
tion feeling  a  greater  sense  of  freedom  than  I  have  for  four 
years.  -In  spite  of  another  very  rainy  day,  Woodley  never 
seemed  more  attractive  than  it  does  this  morning,  on  Wednes- 
day, November  9th.  Of  course  my  future  is  all  up  in  the  air, 
I  don't  know  what  I  shall  do.  I  have  been  out  of  my  profession 
now  for  five  years.  I  am  sixty-five  years  old,  and  I  don't  feel 
very  much  like  going  back  into  the  harness  again  to  the  life  of 
drudgery  that  I  had  before.  But  I  think  I  shall  have  to  make 
some  reconnection  with  my  profession,  because  otherwise  I 
shall  be  completely  lost.  The  great  problem  is  to  find  out  how 
to  do  it,  and  at  the  same  time  keep  open  the  chances  for  capi- 
talizing to  the  usefulness  of  the  country  the  experience  I  have 
had  for  the  last  four  years  in  this  very  responsible  post.  Of 
course  my  own  party  is  now  in  opposition,  or  will  be  after  the 
fourth  of  March,  and  the  chances  are  that  the  situation  will 
be  very  different  from  what  it  is  now.  But,  fortunately,  I  have 
been  in  a  post  which  has  been  the  most  nonpartisan  post  in  the 
Cabinet  and  have  just  as  many  good  friends  among  the  Demo- 
crats as  among  the  Republicans,  and  I  trust  no  enemies ;  and 
it  may  be  possible  to  be  useful  in  some  now  unforeseen  way.  At 
the  same  time  I  have  taken  an  active  part  in  the  campaign  and 
have  made  some  vigorous  speeches  against  Roosevelt,  which 
cannot  make  him  feel  very  friendly  towards  me.  So  that  the 

OUT  AGAIN  289 

result  is  that  I  am  in  the  lap  of  the  gods,  and  only  the  future 
will  tell  what  we  can  do. 

"The  first  problem  is  to  make  sure  that  whoever  comes  in 
as  Secretary  of  State  after  me  shall  have  a  fair  chance  to  under- 
stand the  policies  we  have  been  working  out  during  this  time, 
and,  as  far  as  possible,  not  do  something  to  reverse  them  un- 
necessarily. That  is  what  we  will  have  to  do  this  winter  in 
trying  to  smooth  out  the  difficulties." 

The  first  efforts  of  co-operation  with  the  President-elect 
were  not  encouraging.  The  war  debts,  necessarily  shelved  dur- 
ing the  campaign,  returned  at  once  to  make  trouble,  not  only 
between  Stimson  and  Mr.  Hoover,  as  we  have  seen,  but  between 
the  President  and  the  President-elect,  and  this  latter  difficulty 
seemed  to  involve  real  personal  animus  on  both  sides.  Mr. 
Hoover  asked  for  Mr.  Roosevelt's  help  in  developing  a  policy 
which  would  reach  fruition  only  after  the  inauguration;  Mr. 
Roosevelt  argued  that  he  could  not  intervene  in  the  question, 
since  all  authority  and  responsibility  rested  with  the  men  actu- 
ally holding  office.  In  this  case  Stimson  believed  that  Mr. 
Hoover's  stand  was  a  good  deal  better  than  his  antagonist's, 
but  he  also  believed  that  neither  of  the  two  men  was  at  his 
best  in  dealing  with  the  other.  This  mutual  distrust  was  to  per- 
sist for  twelve  years  more,  and  after  1940,  when  he  had  come 
to  feel  the  same  loyalty  and  affection  toward  Franklin  Roose- 
velt that  he  had  for  Herbert  Hoover,  Stimson  many  times 
regretted  it;  it  seemed  absurd  that  an  ancient  grudge  should 
keep  a  man  of  the  stature  of  Mr.  Hoover  on  the  side  lines  at 
a  time  when  the  country  needed  every  able  public  servant  it 
could  get. 

The  war  debt  negotiations  between  Mr.  Hoover  and  Mr. 
Roosevelt  reached  an  apparent  impasse  on  December  21.  On 
December  22  Stimson  received  a  telephone  message  from  his 
friend  Professor  Felix  Frankfurter.  "Frankfurter  called  me 
up  from  Albany.  He  was  at  the  Executive  Mansion  spending 
the  night  with  Roosevelt.  He  said  that  in  the  middle  of  their 
conversation,  which  lasted  about  two  hours,  Roosevelt  sud- 
denly out  of  a  clear  sky  said,  Why  doesn't  Harry  Stimson  come 
up  here  and  talk  with  me  and  settle  this  damn  thing  that 
nobody  else  seems  to  be  able  to?'  And  on  that  basis  Frankfurter-- 


called  me  up.  He  said  that  if  I  would  call  up  Roosevelt  and 
ask  him  if  something  couldn't  be  done,  he  would  invite  me  up 
there  the  day  after  Christmas  to  spend  the  night  and  we  could 
talk  it  over.  Frankfurter  and  I  had  quite  a  long  talk  over  the 
telephone.  He  thinks  that  there  has  been  a  terrible  misunder- 
standing. He  said  that  Roosevelt  feels  very  badly  that  all  co- 
operative efforts  had  been  broken  off.  I  told  him  that  that  was 
the  way  we  felt  down  here  and  that  we  had  gotten  the  impres- 
sion that  Roosevelt  had  his  own  plans  and  didn't  want  any  co- 
operation. Altogether  it  was  a  funny  occurrence.  I  told  Frank- 
furter that  I  would  think  it  over.  He  is  to  be  in  New  York 
tomorrow,  and  I  told  him  I  would  telephone  him  there.  Frank- 
furter told  me  that  Roosevelt  apparently  had  no  acrimony 
against  me  at  all  even  on  the  subject  of  my  1930  speech,  which 
Frankfurter  had  specifically  asked  about,  and  Frankfurter  told 
me  that  he  had  used  the  same  words  about  me  that  had  been 
reported  to  me  by  some  of  the  newspapermen,  namely,  that  I 
didn't  play  politics." 

On  the  following  day  Stimson  reported  this  message  to  the 
President.  "He  was  against  it  I  could  see  from  the  first.  He 
asked  me  to  tell  Mills  about  it,  and  then  Mills  was  to  come  in 
and  talk  with  him  about  it,  which  we  did.  He  by  that  time  was 
crystallized  very  strongly  against  going  near  Roosevelt.  He 
said  that  the  only  way  that  he  would  reopen  the  gate  was  to 
have  Roosevelt  send  down  two  or  three  people  of  proper 
eminence  to  talk  with  Mills  and  myself.  .  .  .  He  was  much 
influenced  by  the  fact  that  every  time  he  had  had  any  personal 
interviews  with  Roosevelt,  there  has  been  unfavorable  propa- 
ganda evidently  coming  from  Roosevelt  through  the  press 
afterwards.  Mills  coincided  with  his  views.  I  did  not  press  the 
invitation  at  all.  I  simply  told  them  the  facts,  because  I  was  in 
a  position  where  I  could  not  press  it,  but  I  made  very  clear 
what  I  thought  of  Frankfurter  and  his  personal  devotion  to  me, 
and  Mills  coincided  in  my  good  opinion  of  Frankfurter." 

So  Stimson  called  Frankfurter  and  "told  him  that  I  could 
not  meet  Roosevelt.  I  told  him  that  I  was  much  gratified  that 
Roosevelt  wanted  to  meet  me  and  had  such  a  pleasant  opinion 
of  me  but  that  I  could  not  see  at  present  that  it  would  do  any 
good.  We  had  quite  a  long  talk  together.  Frankfurter  said  that 

OUT  AGAIN  291 

he  hoped  that  it  would  not  prevent  a  meeting  later.  I  said  no, 
that  I  hoped  that  might  be  open,  but  at  present  it  was  shut  off." 

But  a  channel  of  communication  was  now  open.  On  the 
twenty-third,  even  before  he  called  Frankfurter,  Stimson  had 
received  a  four-point  message  from  Mr.  Roosevelt  by  way 
of  Frankfurter  and  Herbert  Feis.  The  messages  related  to 
minor  matters,  but  they  were  friendly  and  co-operative  in  tone. 

On  the  twenty-fourth  Frankfurter  called  again  "with  a  new 
message  from  Roosevelt"  The  President-elect  hoped  that 
Stimson  would  be  able  to  see  him  in  New  York  in  the  first  two 
weeks  of  January.  If  that  was  impossible  he  would  stop  over 
in  Washington  for  twenty-four  hours  to  see  Stimson,  on  his 
way  to  Warm  Springs.  "It  is  renewed  evidence  on  his  part  of 
a  strong  desire  to  see  me,  which  puts  up  the  responsibility  to 
me  very  strongly  for  my  answer.  I  feel  very  strongly  that  I 
should  grant  the  request  and  so  does  Rogers  and  everybody  else 
I  have  talked  with.  I  told  him  I  could  not  do  so  until  the 
President  gets  back.  When  he  does,  I  hope  he  will  be  more 
cheerful  and  rested  than  he  was  on  Friday;  and  I  shall  then 
put  it  up  to  him  very  strongly,  for  it  is  to  me  incomprehen- 
sible that  we  should  take  a  position  which  would  deprive  the 
incoming  President  of  the  United  States  of  important  informa- 
tion about  foreign  affairs,  which  he  wishes  apparently  to  get 
from  me.  ...  I  can  see  countless  matters  in  which  it  will  be 
important  for  me  to  have  an  interview  with  him  in  regard  to 
such  matters  as  Manchuria,  the  conferences  and  situations  in 
Europe,  about  which  I  personally  know  so  much  and  he  so 
little,  that  I  think  it  is  most  important  for  the  United  States 
and  her  foreign  policy  during  the  next  four  years  that  we 
should  give  this  man  as  fair  a  chance  as  possible.  It  would  be 
the  very  narrowest  and  worst  position  in  the  world  to  take  to 
try  to  prevent  his  getting  such  information  in  order  to  preserve 
the  tactical  position  which  we  have  obtained  from  his  mistake 
hitherto  in  the  way  in  which  he  has  sought  these  conferences." 
(Diary,  December  24,  1932) 

Mr.  Hoover  did  not  return  to  Washington  until  after  the 
New  Year.  Meanwhile  Frankfurter  came  down  to  the  State 
Department  and  gave  Stimson  his  view  of  Mr.  Roosevelt.  "It 
was  a  much  more  attractive  picture  than  we  have  been  getting 


from  the  other  side,"  and  it  reinforced  Stimson  in  his  desire  to 
meet  Mr.  Roosevelt's  request. 

On  January  3  Stimson  had  a  long  talk  with  Mr.  Hoover. 
"I  told  him  that  when  a  man  in  America,  who  had  been  elected 
the  President  of  the  United  States,  was  going  to  have  the  wel- 
fare of  our  country  in  his  hands  for  four  years,  if  he  lived, 
wanted  to  gain  information  about  his  job,  and  particularly 
our  foreign  relations,  it  was  a  very  ticklish  responsibility  to 
refuse  to  give  it  to  him.  I  said  even  supposing  he  was  as  bad  as 
Hoover  thought  he  was  it  was  more  dangerous  to  give  him  this 
grievance,  I  thought,  than  anything  he  could  do  in  the  way  of 
treachery.  In  the  beginning  I  told  Hoover  that  I  was  suffi- 
ciently interested  in  his  (Hoover's)  policy  to  want  to  do  any- 
thing I  could  to  perpetuate  it,  and  I  was  sufficiently  interested, 
as  he  was,  in  the  welfare  of  the  country  to  do  my  best  to  try 
and  make  the  next  administration  a  success  in  recovery,  if 
possible.  The  President  thought  possibly  I  might  have  some 
influence  on  him  and  he  agreed  to  think  it  over." 

And  the  next  day  the  President  "finally  yielded  and  said  that 
he  was  willing  to  have  me  go  up  there,  provided  that  Roose- 
velt would  ask  him  first.  He  is  very  doubtful  about  the  possi- 
bility of  success,  but  he  was  willing  to  have  me  try  it.  I  told 
him  of  course  I  would  not  think  of  going  up  without  him, 
the  President,  being  consulted  and  asked.  I  don't  want  any- 
thing to  be  done  which  would  seem  to  be  putting  him  to  one 
side.  I  told  this  to  Frankfurter  and  he  thought  that  he  could 
handle  it  all  right  with  Roosevelt."  Mr.  Roosevelt  quickly 
agreed  to  send  the  necessary  letter  to  the  President  and  so,  at 
long  last,  it  was  agreed  that  Stimson  should  go  and  see  the 
President-elect.  It  would  be  his  first  meeting  with  Franklin 

On  Monday,  January  9,  Stimson  went  to  Hyde  Park  and 
talked  for  six  hours  with  Mr.  Roosevelt,  "there  being  no  others 
present  at  any  time."  "The  Governor  did  everything  he  could 
to  make  the  interview  pleasant,  and  his  hospitality  was  very 
agreeable.  .  .  .  We  both  spoke  with  the  utmost  freedom  and 
informality."  The  two  men  talked  about  every  major  aspect  of 
current  foreign  policy,  and  on  balance  Stimson  found  that  they 
were  in  very  substantial  agreement,  although  Mr.  Roosevelt 

OUT  AGAIN  293 

seemed  rather  to  underestimate  the  difficulties  involved  in 
disarmament,  war  debts,  and  the  coming  world  economic  con- 
ference. The  most  important  point  to  Stimson  was  Mr.  Roose- 
velt's quick  understanding  and  general  approval  of  his  Man- 
churian  policy.  Stimson  warned  him  that  the  League  was 
approaching  a  final  judgment  and  that  the  outgoing  adminis- 
tration might  have  to  make  a  further  statement;  Mr.  Roosevelt 
promptly  agreed  and  promised  that  he  would  do  nothing  to 
weaken  Stimson's  stand.  The  following  week  the  President- 
elect went  even  farther  in  a  public  statement  in  support  of  the 
administration's  Far  Eastern  policy.  "It  was  a  very  good  and 
timely  statement  and  made  me  feel  better  than  I  have  for  a 
long  time."  (Diary,  January  17,  1933)  In  a  second  meeting  in 
Washington  on  January  19  Mr.  Roosevelt  remarked  "that  'We 
are  getting  so  that  we  do  pretty  good  teamwork,  don't  we?'  I 
laughed  and  said  'Yes.'  " 

And  the  new  relationship  between  Mr.  Roosevelt  and  Stim- 
son opened  the  way  to  new  discussions  of  the  problem  of  war 
debts.  Stimson  now  found  himself  acting  as  Mr.  Hoover's 
liaison  officer  with  Mr.  Roosevelt.  It  proved  possible  to  bring 
Mr.  Hoover  and  Mr.  Roosevelt  together  again  at  the  White 
House  and  an  agreement  was  reached  on  the  procedure  to  be 
followed  in  opening  discussions  with  the  British.  The  discus- 
sion showed  Mr.  Roosevelt's  continued  belief  in  his  own 
powers  of  personal  negotiation  and  Stimson  once  more  felt  that 
the  outgoing  administration  had  far  more  understanding  of  the 
problem  than  Mr.  Roosevelt  and  his  leading  adviser,  Moley. 
But  at  least  a  joint  press  communique  was  agreed  on,  and  Stim- 
son was  also  authorized  to  open  the  way  for  Mr.  Roosevelt's 
personal  discussion  with  the  British.  From  the  day  of  this 
meeting  the  initiative  passed  to  the  man  who  alone  could  carry 
it  through,  and  Stimson  confined  himself  to  the  dual  task  of 
facilitating  Mr.  Roosevelt's  discussion  with  Sir  Ronald  Lind- 
say and  conducting  necessary  State  Department  action  on  the 
debts  in  such  a  way  as  not  to  embarrass  the  incoming  President. 
This  was  a  ticklish  task,  for  Mr.  Hoover  was  preoccupied  with 
the  task  of  defending  and  reinforcing  his  own  record  on  debts, 
and  the  defense  of  one  policy  was  not  easy  to  reconcile  with  the 
beginning  of  a  somewhat  different  one. 


Through  the  remainder  of  January  and  well  into  February 
Stimson  was  in  touch  with  Mr.  Roosevelt  as  occasion  de- 
manded. The  President-elect  was  punctilious  in  securing  State 
Department  approval  before  he  undertook  any  meetings  with 
foreign  diplomats.  Meanwhile  Stimson  began  to  wonder  when 
Mr.  Roosevelt  would  get  around  to  choosing  his  successor  so 
that  detailed  arrangements  could  be  made  for  a  smooth  transi- 
tion. In  a  telephone  talk  on  February  3  he  pressed  this  question 
with  Mr.  Roosevelt,  urging  that  without  prompt  announce- 
ment of  "the  people  that  we  should  deal  with"  it  would  be  hard 
to  get  things  straight  before  March  4,  and  that  it  would  be 
asking  a  good  deal  to  expect  the  outgoing  officials  to  stay  very 
long  after  that  date.  Mr.  Roosevelt  saw  the  point,  but  on  Febru- 
ary 20  he  still  had  not  announced  his  choice  of  a  Secretary  of 
State,  although  rumors  were  becoming  active  and  accurate,  as 
Stimson  pointed  out  in  a  conversation  with  Mr.  Roosevelt  on 
that  day;  "I  then  told  him  that  everybody  else  seemed  to  know 
that  Hull  had  been  appointed  Secretary  of  State  except  my- 
self." The  President-elect  said  that  Hull  was  indeed  his  choice, 
and  two  days  later  the  appointment  was  announced. 

The  day  Cordell  Hull's  appointment  was  announced  Stim- 
son wrote  him  a  letter  of  congratulation  and  received  a  most 
cordial  reply.  Three  days  later  Senator  Hull  came  to  the  De- 
partment and  the  two  men  had  the  first  of  a  regular  series  of 
increasingly  friendly  meetings  which  lasted  without  any  break 
in  mutual  regard  for  the  next  twelve  years,  until  age  and  health 
separated  them.  Stimson  was  at  first  a  little  fearful  that  Hull 
might  be  too  gentle  and  slow  to  be  master  in  his  own  house 
under  a  President  who  clearly  intended  to  keep  a  personal  eye 
on  foreign  affairs.  This  was  an  opinion  which  he  thoroughly 
revised  in  later  years.  Hull  had  his  troubles  with  President 
Roosevelt — as  which  of  those  who  worked  for  that  extraor- 
dinary man  did  not? — but  Stimson  knew  him  and  honored  him 
as  a  distinguished  Secretary  of  State  in  a  time  far  more  difficult 
than  even  the  trying  years  of  1931  and  1932. 

In  this  first  talk  and  others  extending  through  March  8, 
Stimson  and  Hull  discussed  at  length  all  the  current  problems 
of  the  State  Department.  On  no  point  was  there  important 
disagreement,  and  Stimson  was  particularly  pleased  by  his 

OUT  AGAIN  295 

successor's  evident  approval  of  his  Far  Eastern  policy  and  his 
clear  intention  to  support  and  advance  the  career  officers  of 
the  Department. 

Thus  the  big  job  which  Stimson  had  seen  ahead  on  Novem- 
ber 9  seemed  fairly  well  in  hand  as  March  4  approached.  And 
he  had  established  friendly  personal  relations  with  the  two 
men  who  would  now  be  primarily  responsible  for  American 
foreign  affairs.  It  was  a  good  ending. 

In  other  ways,  too,  his  term  was  ending  well.  The  press 
and  the  public  seemed  to  feel  more  kindly  toward  him  now 
than  at  any  time  before;  the  reporters  in  Washington  who  had 
found  him  chilly  and  unhelpful  in  1929  and  1930  now  seemed 
to  feel  that  he  was  a  fairly  decent  fellow,  and  their  warmth  was 
the  more  gratifying  because  it  was  unaccustomed.  Within  the 
State  Department  Stimson  felt  that  he  was  leaving  not  just 
faithful  assistants  but  a  number  of  personal  friends,  and  among 
his  chief  associates,  the  men  who  would  be  leaving  office  with 
him,  he  had  added,  in  Rogers  and  Bundy,  two  new  and  dear 
friends.  It  was  quite  without  any  regret,  and  with  a  real  sense 
of  satisfaction,  therefore,  that  he  made  ready  for  his  exit. 

It  was  only  as  he  considered  the  approaching  change  in  the 
White  House  that  he  felt  nervous.  He  had  now  met  Mr.  Roose- 
velt and  found  him  both  quick  and  friendly;  he  believed 
further  that  foreign  affairs  were  safe  in  his  hands.  But  it  was 
not  so  clear  that  all  would  go  well  in  domestic  matters.  Mr. 
Roosevelt  had  some  strange  advisers,  and  his  way  of  doing 
business  had  already  struck  Stimson  as  "slapdash."  Nor  had 
his  co-operation  in  foreign  affairs  been  matched  in  the  far 
more  urgent  and  dangerous  matter  of  the  banking  crisis.  Stim- 
son heard  that  some  of  Mr.  Roosevelt's  friends  were  deliber- 
ately planning  to  let  the  crisis  become  even  more  acute  until 
after  the  inauguration. 

As  he  looked  from  Franklin  Roosevelt  to  Herbert  Hoover 
in  March,  1933,  therefore,  Stimson  found  himself  unhappy 
over  the  approaching  change.  He  was  also  sorry  to  see  his 
relationship  with  Mr.  Hoover  coming  to  an  end.  He  had  had 
serious  differences  with  the  President,  but  never  any  reason  to 
regret  his  service  under  a  man  whose  burden  had  been  much 
greater  than  his  own.  On  March  2  Stimson  stopped  at  the 


White  House  to  have  "a  word  or  two  of  good-by,"  knowing 
that  he  would  probably  not  have  the  chance  in  the  last  crowded 
hours.  He  told  Mr.  Hoover,  "I  was  getting  the  jitters  whenever 
I  thought  of  how  I  should  feel  when  I  saw  the  last  of  him  dis- 
appearing out  of  sight  on  his  way  to  California.  ...  I  told 
him  that  I  hoped  that,  in  spite  of  the  fact  that  we  had  scrapped 
a  good  deal  on  some  points,  he  did  not  feel  that  I  did  not  thor- 
oughly trust  him  and  have  confidence  in  him.  He  smiled  and 
said  that  he  had  been  a  pretty  hard  man  to  deal  with  these  last 
two  years ;  that  he  had  the  jitters  himself.  We  had  a  nice,  frank, 
confidential  talk.  I  came  away  feeling  as  I  always  do  when  I 
have  such  a  talk  with  him." 

On  Inauguration  Day  Stimson  went  through  the  usual 
ceremonies.  By  afternoon  he  was  out  of  office  and  a  free  man. 
In  the  evening  he  and  Mrs.  Stimson  went  out  to  dinner  with 
their  closest  State  Department  friends  and  associates  in  a  fare- 
well party,  and  "we  had  really  the  best  time  we  have  had  in 
Washington.  .  .  .  After  dinner  we  talked  a  little  about  the 
crisis  but  not  very  long  and  then  when  the  ladies  came  down 
we  gathered  around  the  piano  and  had  singing  until  after  mid- 
night .  .  .  the  spirit  was  perfectly  lovely  and  we  enjoyed  it 
more  than  anything  that  had  happened  to  us  here." 


Toward  General  War 


IN  STIMSON'S  private  life  the  years  from  1933  to  1940 
were  uneventful.  During  the  first  two  years  after  leaving 
the  State  Department  he  returned  to  his  law  office  in  New  York 
but  continued  to  spend  part  of  the  winters  in  Washington  at 
Woodley.  Generally  speaking,  it  was  a  period  at  first  of  rest 
and  then  of  resumed  private  labor.  The  first  year  was  not 
strenuous.  In  1935  and  1936  he  was  occupied  in  the  prepara- 
tion of  The  Far  Eastern  Crisis.  In  1937  he  was  elected  to  serve 
for  two  years  as  president  of  the  New  York  Bar  Association. 
From  1938  until  he  was  called  back  to  Washington  in  1940 
he  was  occupied  with  the  largest  single  law  case  of  his  career. 
Almost  every  summer  he  and  Mrs.  Stimson  went  to  Scotland, 
passing  through  England  on  their  way  and  thus  keeping  closely 
in  touch  with  the  current  of  English  opinion,  This  current  was 
somewhat  discouraging,  but  Stimson  persisted  in  his  deep  con- 
viction that  Great  Britain  and  the  United  States  must  recon- 
struct the  understanding  which  had  been  damaged  first  by  the 
Manchurian  affair  and  second  by  the  war  debt  question. 

During  the  years  that  he  spent  in  Washington,  Stimson  was 
several  times  a  visitor  at  the  White  House.  He  later  became 
a  strong  opponent  of  the  New  Deal,  but  in  the  earlier  years 
he  found  Mr.  Roosevelt  always  willing  to  hear  his  views  and 
criticisms  in  friendly  fashion. 

Stimson  found  Mr.  Roosevelt's  basic  view  of  foreign  affairs 
the  same  as  his  own.  He  approved  of  the  President's  recogni- 
tion of  Russia  and  of  his  policy  of  building  up  the  fleet;  he 
felt  that  both  were  useful  complements  to  the  continued  firm- 



ness  of  the  American  stand  in  the  Far  East.  He  found  that 
Mr.  Roosevelt  was  sympathetic  to  his  views  on  the  Philippines. 
If  the  President  perhaps  did  not  share  Stimson's  special  en- 
thusiasm for  a  development  toward  dominion  government,  he 
was  nevertheless  clearly  opposed  to  any  irresponsible  and 
faithless  abandonment  of  the  Islands,  and  his  weight  was 
always  thrown  against  the  effort  to  strangle  Philippine  trade 
with  the  United  States. 

With  Secretary  Hull,  Stimson  also  had  regular  meetings. 
He  found  himself  unexpectedly  drawn  in  as  a  friend  and 
counselor  to  the  new  Secretary  in  the  summer  of  1933  at  the 
London  Economic  Conference.  When  Stimson  arrived  in 
London  on  vacation,  this  meeting  had  just  been  severely  af- 
fected by  one  of  Mr.  Roosevelt's  sudden  and  casual  shifts  in 
attitude.  Both  the  tone  of  his  notorious  message  of  July  3 
and  the  operations  of  his  personal  diplomat  Raymond  Moley 
served  to  make  Secretary  Hull's  task  vastly  more  difficult. 
The  atmosphere  of  diplomatic  London  was  sizzling  when 
Stimson  arrived,  and  it  was  with  some  difficulty  that  he  held 
aloof  from  the  charges  and  countercharges  that  were  privately 
circulated  by  very  high  personages  in  Great  Britain  after  this 

Early  in  1934  Stimson  had  his  chance  to  strike  a  blow  for 
Hull's  dearest  policy,  and  at  the  same  time  to  give  support  to 
a  principle  which  was  important  to  him.  For  over  forty  years, 
since  the  time  in  1892  when  he  voted  for  Grover  Cleveland, 
Stimson  had  been  at  heart  a  low-tariff  man.  His  views  were  by 
no  means  radical ;  he  believed  that  to  a  certain  degree  tariff 
protection  was  probably  a  necessary  adjunct  to  the  high  stand- 
ard of  American  living.  At  the  same  time  he  was  convinced 
that  by  the  exigencies  of  congressional  tariff  making  the  Amer- 
ican tariff  had  become  a  hodgepodge  of  excessive  rates  designed 
mainly  to  protect  inefficient  and  wholly  uneconomic  industries. 
And  after  his  experiences  in  the  State  Department  he  was, 
emotionally,  a  stern  enemy  of  the  whole  concept  of  economic 
isolation  which  lay  behind  the  pressure  for  higher  tariffs. 
Granting  that  free  trade  in  the  classical  sense  was  no  longer 
possible  in  an  era  of  managed  currency,  government  controls, 
and  rigid  economies,  he  nevertheless  believed  that  for  the 


United  States,  a  creditor  nation,  greater  imports  were  an  im- 
perative necessity.  Whatever  might  have  been  the  earlier  wis- 
dom of  high  tariffs,  and  whatever  might  be  right  for  other 
nations,  the  American  tariff  must  now  come  down.  In  the  year 
after  leaving  the  State  Department  Stimson  had  occasion  to 
give  close  attention  to  the  tariff  problem.  He  was  particularly 
impressed  by  a  little  book  from  the  pen  of  Henry  Wallace 
called  America  Must  Choose  in  which  the  Secretary  of  Agri- 
culture argued  with  force  and  clarity  for  lower  tariffs  to  permit 
greater  agricultural  exports.  So  in  April,  1934,  when  the  first 
Reciprocal  Trade  Agreement  Bill  was  before  the  Senate,  Stim- 
son was  eager  to  help,  and  on  receiving  Hull's  assurance  that 
his  support  was  welcome,  he  made  a  radio  speech  strongly 
supporting  this  Democratic  measure. 

The  main  argument  of  this  speech  was  simply  for  increased 
foreign  trade.  Stimson  drew  on  Wallace's  book  for  his  con- 
tention that  without  a  healthy  foreign  trade  the  United  States 
must  slip  toward  a  controlled  economy.  "Mr.  Wallace  frankly 
points  out  the  dangers  and  difficulties  which  will  lie  before  us 
if  we  adopt  the  former  course — the  compulsory  government 
control  of  production  and  marketing  .  .  . ;  the  suppression  of 
our  hereditary  initiative  and  love  of  freedom;  and,  worst  of 
all,  the  stifling  of  individual  free  thought  and  speech  which 
is  a  necessary  accompaniment  of  the  process  if  we  carry 
national  planning  to  its  full  conclusion.  I  am  very  glad  that  he 
frankly  announces  his  own  distaste  and  opposition  to  such  a 
process  and  that  he  evidently  believes  that  we  should  try  as 
far  as  possible  to  follow  the  other  course — that  of  trying  to 
restore  our  international  trade."1 

The  speech  continued  with  a  description  of  the  increasing 
restrictions  placed  on  foreign  trade  by  foreign  nations  and 
then  took  a  course  directly  in  line  with  Stimson's  whole  phi- 
losophy of  government :  The  power  to  meet  the  situation  must 
be  given  to  the  Executive.  The  proposed  bill  would  in  effect 
give  to  the  President  authority  to  make  limited  changes  in  the 
American  tariff.  "I  think  that  some  such  legislation  should  be 
promptly  passed  to  meet  the  emergency  which  confronts  us. 

1  Radio  address,  April  39,   1934. 


I  am  not  impressed  with  the  objection  that  it  would  give 
undue  or  dictatorial  powers  to  our  Executive." 

Carefully  hedged  as  it  was,  this  speech  was  not  in  its  direct 
statement  a  low-tariff  document.  In  its  political  effect,  how- 
ever, it  was  exactly  that,  as  the  reaction  of  its  audience  demon- 
strated. Stimson  was  surprised  and  pleased  with  its  recep- 
tion, which  was  friendly  in  all  quarters  but  one.  "I  took  a  little 
care  of  the  publicity  and  it  went  off  with  a  pretty  good  bang. 
The  Times  and  Tribune  [of  New  York]  printed  it  in  full 
and  it  obtained  great  publicity  all  over  the  country.  The 
Republicans  on  the  whole  were  very  angry  of  course  for  it 
contravened  their  rather  stupid  policy  of  indiscriminate  op- 
position. This  was  a  time  when  an  opportunity  was  presented 
to  assist  the  policy  of  the  conservative  advisers  of  the  President 
and  to  oppose  that  of  the  radicals,  and  I  felt  that  it  was  very 
important  to  take  it.  ...  I  received  a  great  many  letters  of 
commendation  and  almost  no  public  criticism.  ...  Of  course 
Hull  and  the  members  of  the  Department  were  thoroughly 
delighted  and  Hull  again  and  again  thanked  me  for  it.  The 
President  himself  told  me  that  he  thought  I  was  the  chief 
influence  in  securing  the  probable  passage  of  the  bill."  (Diary, 
May  1 8,  1934)  Mr.  Roosevelt  was  not  a  man  who  ever  sacri- 
ficed his ,  friendly  feelings  to  strict  accuracy,  and  Stimson 
never  believed  himself  the  father,  or  even  the  midwife,  of  the 
Trade  Agreements  Act.  But  he  was  always  glad  that  he  had 
done  what  he  could  to  help. 

Through  the  succeeding  years  he  became  more  and  more 
convinced  that  the  path  on  which  Cordell  Hull  set  out  in  1934 
was  the  only  one  which  gave  any  promise  of  a  stable  foreign 
commerce  in  a  prosperous  America ;  tariff  reduction,  with  or 
without  equivalent  concessions  from  other  nations,  was  the 
only  sensible  course  for  the  United  States. 

In  1936  the  Republican  insistence  on  a  high  tariff  so  dis- 
gusted him  that  in  spite  of  his  growing  disapproval  of  the  New 
Deal  he  took  no  active  part  whatever  in  the  campaign.  In  1947, 
when  the  Republicans  in  Congress  once  more  demonstrated 
their  continued  subservience  to  the  selfish  pressure  groups 
which  produce  tariff  barriers,  he  was  more  angry  still,  for  the 
Second  World  War  and  its  aftermath  had  made  the  economic 


impossibility  and  blind  folly  of  such  a  program  more  evident 
than  ever.  He  did  not  know  when  his  party — and  many  Demo- 
crats too — would  understand  that  America  must  learn  to  like 
heavy  imports,  but  he  was  certain  that  the  longer  their  igno- 
rance continued,  the  more  painful  the  resulting  lesson 
would  be. 

Whatever  else  it  did,  Stimson's  advocacy  of  the  Trade 
Agreements  Act  endeared  him  to  Mr.  Roosevelt.  A  few  weeks 
after  making  his  speech  he  was  called  to  the  White  House  for 
lunch,  and  he  had  a  talk  with  the  President  which  lasted  an 
hour  and  a  half  and  was  the  friendliest  he  had  ever  had.  It 
was  at  this  meeting  that  he  discovered  how  closely  Mr.  Roose- 
velt's view  of  Japan  coincided  with  his  own,  and  he  heard 
from  the  President  an  extraordinary  but  impressive  tale  of 
the  long-term  ambitions  of  the  Japanese  as  they  had  been  ex- 
plained to  young  Franklin  Roosevelt'by  a  Japanese  friend  at 
Harvard  in  1902.  "This  young  Japanese  boy  had  told  him  of 
the  making  in  1889  of  the  one-hundred-year  Japanese  plan 
for  the  Japanese  dynasty,  which  involved  the  following  steps 
in  the  following  order : 

"i.  An  official  war  with  China  to  show  that  they  could 
fight  and  could  beat  China. 

"2.  The  absorption  of  Korea. 

"3.  A  defensive  war  against  Russia. 

"4.  The  taking  of  Manchuria. 

"5.  Taking  of  Jehol. 

"6.  The  establishment  of  a  virtual  protectorate  over  north- 
ern China  from  the  Wall  to  the  Yangtze. 

"7.  Encircling  movement  in  Mongolia  and  the  establish- 
ment of  the  Japanese  influence  through  instructors  as  far  as 
Tibet,  thus  establishing  a  precautionary  threat  against  Russia 
on  one  side  and  India  on  the  other. 

"8.  The  acquisition  of  all  the  islands  of  the  Pacific  including 

"9.  Eventually  the  acquisition  of  Australia  and  New  Zea- 

"10.  Establishment  of  Japanese — (using  a  word  indicating 
a  rather  fatherly  control,  which  the  President  said  he  could 
not  quite  remember)  over  all  of  the  yellow  races,  including 


the  Malays.  In  this  way  the  young  man  said  they  would  have 
a  definite  point  of  threat  against  Europe. 

"When  young  Roosevelt  asked  him  what  they  were  going  to 
do  to  the  United  States,  he  said  that  the  United  States  need 
not  have  any  fear;  that  all  they  would  do  in  the  new  hemi- 
sphere would  be  to  establish  outposts,  one  probably  in  Mexico 
and  another  perhaps  in  Peru ;  otherwise  they  would  leave  us 
alone.  But  we  must  remember  that  they  were  a  temperate  zone 
people  and  they  must  have  Australia  and  New  Zealand  to 
expand  in.  The  President  commented  in  how  many  particulars 
this  plan  revealed  to  him  by  the  young  Jap,  who  was  a  high- 
class  member  of  the  Samurai  caste  in  Japan,  had  been  con- 
firmed by  subsequent  events — this  having  been  told  to  Roose- 
velt several  years  before  the  Russo-Japanese  War."  (Diary, 
May  17,  1934)  Nothing  that  happened  in  the  next  seven  years 
weakened  the  aptness  of  this  strange  and  well-remembered 
conversation  in  Cambridge. 

This  talk  with  Mr.  Roosevelt  covered  many  phases  of  Amer- 
ican policy,  foreign  and  domestic;  its  entire  tone  was  symbol- 
ized in  a  couple  of  sentences  of  mutually  satisfactory  reminis- 
cence: "I  reminded  him  that  his  magnanimity  towards  me 
had  enabled  us  to  work  out  this  working  relation  which  we 
had  and,  to  explain  what  I  meant,  I  recalled  that  I  had  treated 
him  pretty  roughly  in  1930.  He  laughed  and  said,  'Yes,  and  I 
made  an  utterly  unfair  answer  to  you.'  He  met  me  fully  in  the 
spirit  in  which  I  was  speaking  and  said  that  he  felt  that  my 
action  with  him  in  January,  1933,  had  helped  stave  over  a  very 
difficult  situation."  (Diary,  May  17,  1934) 

Stimson  and  Mr.  Roosevelt  had  one  further  talk  later  in 
1934;  after  that  they  did  not  meet  again  until  1940,  although 
they  exchanged  several  letters.  For  this  there  were  a  number 
of  reasons.  One  was  that  this  later  talk  produced  a  misunder- 
standing, minor  in  itself,  which  for  a  time  clouded  Stimson's 
confidence  in  the  President.  Another,  probably  more  important, 
was  Stimson's  growing  absorption  in  his  New  York  practice. 
A  third  was  his  increasing  opposition  to  the  trend  of  the  New 
Deal.  A  fourth  was  that  after  1934,  bowing  to  the  overwhelm- 
ing opinion  of  his  countrymen,  Mr.  Roosevelt  for  some  years 
pursued  a  policy  in  foreign  affairs  which  seemed  to  Stimson 


not  sufficiently  positive  or  active.  But  throughout  this  period 
Stimson  never  forgot  that  Franklin  Roosevelt  was  a  man  he 
knew  and  liked,  and  not  a  bogey,  and  Mr.  Roosevelt  for  his 
part  sent  regular  messages  of  personal  cordiality  and  friend- 

Opposition  to  the  New  Deal  came  naturally  to  Stimson.  He 
had  been  a  progressive  in  1911,  but  by  1935  he  was  clearly  a 
conservative,  at  least  in  the  terms  of  the  i93o's.  He  was  not  a 
New  Deal  hater ;  he  recognized  that  much  of  the  New  Deal 
program  and  more  of  its  motives  were  admirable.  But  he  was 
against  TVA  as  government  in  business;  he  was  against  the 
heavily  unbalanced  budgets  as  dangerous  to  the  government's 
financial  stability;  he  strongly  deprecated  Mr.  Roosevelt's 
appeals  to  class  feeling;  he  believed  that  the  Wagner  Act 
was  a  wholly  unbalanced  and  unfair  piece  of  legislation. 

But  the  one  undertaking  of  the  New  Deal  which  aroused 
him  to  open  and  immediate  opposition  was  the  Supreme  Court 
Bill  of  1937.  This  he  denounced  early  and  vigorously,  and  he 
actively  participated  in  the  effort  which  defeated  it.  In  1935 
when  the  NRA  was  invalidated  and  Mr.  Roosevelt  made  his 
famous  remark  about  the  Court  and  the  horse-and-buggy  age, 
Stimson  had  written  him  a  long  and  careful  letter  combining 
sympathy  with  a  warning  against  any  head-on  attack  on  the 
Court.  He  had  received  in  return  a  most  friendly  answer,  in 
which  Mr.  Roosevelt  said  that  the  truth  was  probably  halfway 
between  them.  The  administration's  effort  in  1937,  however, 
was  neither  temperate  nor  intelligent,  and  in  Stimson's  view 
it  was  a  direct  assault  on  the  Constitution.  He  believed  that 
Mr.  Roosevelt  had  no  real  or  justifiable  grievance  against  the 
Court;  he  was  absolutely  certain  that  the  President's  way  of 
seeking  redress  was  wholly  wrong.  His  attitude  is  perhaps  best 
expressed  not  in  his  public  statements  but  in  a  diary  entry  of  a 
conversation  with  Hull,  whom  he  continued  throughout  the 
period  to  see  at  regular  intervals :  "Bef ore  I  left  I  told  him  very 
frankly  of  my  shock  at  the  President's  Supreme  Court  pro- 
posal. I  reminded  him  that  I  had  supported  his  work  through- 
out even  at  the  cost  of  differing  from  my  party  and  that  I  had 
also  tried  to  assist  the  President  when  he  had  asked  me  in 
foreign  affairs,  to  all  of  which  Mr.  Hull  assented.  When  I 


said,  'But  I  cannot  tell  you  how  shocked  I  have  been  at  recent 
events,'  a  look  of  pain  came  over  his  face;  he  raised  his  hands 
in  deprecation  and  said,  'I  understand,  I  understand.  You  mean 
the  Supreme  Court  and  the  sitdown  strikes.'  I  said  I  didn't 
feel  so  shocked  at  the  sitdown  strikes  for  that  may  be  for  all 
I  know  a  difficult  and  involved  matter  for  the  government  to 
handle  and  I  realize  that  it  must  be  difficult,  but  the  other  is 
a  straight  plain  constitutional  issue.  I  said,  'I  ijever  expected 
to  live  to  see  a  President  of  the  United  States  try  to  pack  the 
Supreme  Court.'  I  went  on :  'Furthermore  in  this  position  at 
the  beginning  of  the  depression  I  watched  many  dictatorships 
come  and  the  steps  by  which  they  came.  I  do  not  think  that  the 
President  has  any  intention  of  making  himself  a  dictator  but 
I  can  only  say  that  anyone  who  had  such  an  intention  would 
follow  exactly  this  course.'  "  (Diary,  April  7,  1937) 

This  was  the  high  point  of  Stimson's  opposition  to  the 
Roosevelt  administration.  In  1938  he  argued  strongly  for 
changes  in  the  Wagner  Act;  this  led  to  his  first  campaign 
activity  since  1932 — he  supported  his  old  friend  John  Lord 
O'Brian  against  his  old  acquaintance  Robert  Wagner.  In  1939, 
when  the  administration  had  begun  to  catch  up  with  him  in 
foreign  policy,  he  combined  his  support  of  Mr.  Roosevelt's 
firm  stand  against  isolationism  with  a  comment  which  accu- 
rately summarizes  his  general  view  of  the  New  Deal : 

"National  strength  is  not  promoted  by  an  extravagance 
which  comes  dangerously  near  the  impairment  of  our  national 
credit.  It  is  not  promoted  by  discouraging  the  business  welfare 
of  the  country  upon  which  depends  the  economic  power  of  the 
nation.  It  is  not  promoted  by  novel  and  haphazard  experiments 
with  the  nation's  finance.  National  unity  is  not  promoted  by 
appeals  to  class  spirit.  Nor  is  it  promoted  by  methods  which 
tend  to  disrupt  the  patriotism  of  either  party  or  the  effective 
co-operation  of  the  two,  upon  which  the  co-ordi'nate  working 
of  the  American  Government  depends."2 

But  the  tariff,  the  New  Deal,  the  law,  and  even  the  delights 
of  private  life  were  all  secondary,  in  these  seven  years,  to 
Stimson's  constant  and  intense  concern  with  international 
political  affairs.  This  was  the  subject  on  which  he  wrote  and 

2  Letter  to  the  New  York  Times,  March  6,  1939. 


spoke  most  often,  the  subject  on  which  he  constantly  sought 
expert  opinion,  the  subject  on  which  he  was  most  disturbed 
about  the  attitude  of  his  countrymen,  and,  in  the  end,  the  sub- 
ject whose  unrolling  course  returned  him  to  public  life. 

2-      I933-I94° — CAST  AS  CASSANDRA 

The  Second  World  War  casts  a  long  shadow  backward  over 
the  history  of  the  years  before  its  outbreak,  and  in  writing  of 
Stimson's  service  as  Secretary  of  State  from  the  vantage  point 
of  1947  it  has  seemed  proper  to  focus  attention  on  those  events 
and  actions  which  now  appear  as  natural  forerunners  of  war. 
In  any  retrospective  view  it  is  clear  that  two  of  the  great  turn- 
ing points  of  the  years  between  wars  were  the  invasion  of  Man- 
churia by  Japan  and  the  accession  of  Adolf  Hitler.  Stimson's 
connection  with  both  these  events  has  been  described,  and  the 
description  has  been  set  in  the  dark  colors  appropriate  to  the 
occasion.  The  failure  was  evident  at  the  time,  and  profoundly 

What  was  not  evident — and  this  point  must  here  be  empha- 
sized— was  the  degree  and  extent  of  the  failure.  There  was  no 
sense  of  general  frustration  in  Stimson's  mind  as  he  left  the 
State  Department  and  no  certain  foreboding  of  inevitable  war. 
He  had  no  foreknowledge  of  the  series  of  additional  errors  and 
failures  which  were  to  bring  not  merely  war  but  imminent 
danger  of  the  overthrow  of  Western  civilization.  Nor  did  he 
at  first  fully  appreciate  the  diabolical  intensity  of  the  forces  set 
free  in  the  new  Germany  and  the  new  Japan. 

It  thus  happened  that  in  writing  of  his  experience  as  Secre- 
tary of  State,  and  trying  to  assess  the  future,  between  1933  and 
1936,  Stimson  permitted  himself  a  cautious  optimism  which 
was  not  borne  out  by  events.  Both  the  optimism  and  the  unful- 
filled conditions  on  which  it  was  based  deserve  attention. 

The  central  effort  of  Stimson's  service  as  Secretary  of  State 
had  been  to  break  down  the  barriers  to  American  co-operation 
with  the  rest  of  the  world.  "I  believe,"  he  wrote  in  his  last 
weeks  in  office,  "that  important  foundations  of  progress  have 
been  laid,  upon  which  it  will  be  possible  for  an  enduring  struc- 


ture  to  be  erected  by  the  labors  of  our  successors."3  His  political 
co-operation  with  the  League,  his  principle  of  consultation  in 
the  face  of  a  breach  of  the  peace,  his  earnest  effort  to  mobilize 
and  enforce  the  sanction  of  public  opinion,  feeble  though  they 
might  seem  in  contemplation  of  the  great  world  war  which 
followed,  did  not  seem  weak  to  him,  and  he  was  sure  that  they 
represented  a  step  in  the  right  direction. 

Similarly  he  believed  and  repeatedly  argued  that  the  League 
of  Nations  had  been  astonishingly  successful  in  view  of  the 
difficulties  it  had  faced.  Granted  that  it  had  not  guaranteed 
peace,  it  was  at  least  an  agency  with  the  proper  machinery  for 
such  a  guarantee,  and  it  had  provided  the  enduring  forum  and 
meeting  ground  the  absence  of  which  Sir  Edward  Grey  had 
considered  a  primary  cause  of  war  in  1914.  Granted  that  it  had 
not  applied  against  Japan  the  machinery  of  economic  sanctions 
with  which  it  was  provided,  it  was  at  least  promoting  "to  a 
high  degree"  the  "growth  and  organization  of  an  intelligent 
public  opinion  of  the  world,"  which  was  clearly  the  "first  step 
in  developing  the  machinery  of  war  prevention."  Writing  in 
1934  Stimson  argued  that  "lack  of  sympathy  and  cynicism  of 
attitude"  toward  such  efforts  would  be  inexcusable.  And  the 
lectures  from  which  those  quotations  are  taken  were  frankly 
designed  to  "offset  the  pessimism,  not  to  say  panic,  which  we 
have  so  commonly  expressed  as  to  recent  occurrences  in  Cen- 
tral Europe."4 

For  Stimson  greatly  underestimated  the  Nazis  during  their 
first  three  years  in  power.  He  did  not  believe  that  Hitler  would 
last — after  the  purge  of  June  30,  1934,  he  expressed  the  view 
that  "Nazism  in  Germany  was  on  the  toboggan"  (Diary,  July 
24,  1934) — and  throughout  this  period  he  was  convinced  that 
economics  forbade  the  persistence  of  a  rearming  dictatorship, 
sharing  the  view  so  widely  held  that  Germany's  dependence 
for  economic  well-being  on  other  nations  "offers  a  fairly  safe 
guarantee  against  unrestrained  violence  against  her  neighbors 
on  the  part  of  Germany."5 

A  somewhat  similar  hopefulness   characterized   Stimson's 

3  Foreign  Affairs,  April,  1933. 

4  Democracy  and  Nationalism,  Stafford  Little  Lectures  at  Princeton  University,  Prince- 
ton, 1934. 

^Democracy  and  Nationalism,  p.  42. 


thinking  about  Japan  in  this  period.  Although  Manchuria  was 
still  occupied,  and  Japanese  tentacles  were  already  reaching 
out  toward  other  parts  of  China,  he  did  not  believe  that  either 
Japan  or  Germany  was  wholly  lost  to  liberalism  and  continued 
to  hope  that  the  passage  of  time  and  the  continuing  pressure  of 
world  opinion  would  bring  reversals  of  the  trend  in  both 

These,  then,  were  Stimson's  hopes  in  the  first  years  after  his 
service  as  Secretary  of  State.  To  some  degree,  it  seems  clear, 
they  were  based  on  a  serious  misreading  of  the  strength  and 
menace  of  modern  militaristic  dictatorship.  But  in  far  greater 
measure  Stimson's  error  in  foresight  was  due  to  his  failure  to 
anticipate  the  extraordinary  weakness  and  cowardice  which 
were  to  be  displayed  by  all  the  nonaggressive  nations,  his  own 
included,  in  dealing  with  the  rise  of  aggressive  states.  When  he 
foretold  the  speedy  collapse  of  Hitlerism,  it  did  not  occur  to 
him  that  Western  statesmen  would  actively  connive  at  the 
penetration  and  destruction  of  one  nation  after  another,  and 
when  he  hoped  for  a  victory  of  moderation  in  Japan,  he  did  not 
anticipate  that  his  own  countrymen  would  for  three  years  assist 
in  nourishing  the  Japanese  war  machine.  As  these  failures  be- 
came apparent,  and  particularly  as  it  became  clear  that  the 
American  people  were  shifting  their  course  toward  an  isola- 
tionism more  binding  and  complete  than  ever  before,  Stim- 
son  ceased  to  be  a  cautious  optimist  and  assumed  instead  the 
unhappy  and  temperamentally  ill-fitting  role  of  Cassandra. 

The  five  years  of  Anglo-French  folly  which  preceded  the 
outbreak  of  war  in  September,  1939,  need  not  here  be  dis- 
cussed. Stimson  watched  the  course  of  events,  from  the  betrayal 
of  Ethiopia  through  the  absurd  "nonintervention"  in  Spain, 
on  to  the  final  moral  abdication  at  Munich,  in  mounting  appre- 
hension and  dismay,  but  he  spoke  no  word  of  these  views  in 
public;  he  agreed  with  a  friend  in  October,  1938,  uin  feeling 
(as  Americans  whose  country  would  not  help  out  in  the  situa- 
tion) a  great  disinclination  to  criticize  those  who  had  the 
responsibility."  (Diary,  October  24,  1938)  His  public  state- 
ments and  personal  efforts  were  directed  toward  his  own  coun- 
trymen, in  an  effort  first  to  stem  and  then  to  reverse  a  rising  tide 
of  isolationism.  This  he  undertook  in  a  series  of  speeches  and 


statements  beginning  in  1935,  in  which  he  steadily  developed 
his  basic  assertion  that  the  nation  could  not  successfully — or 
peacefully — set  the  pursuit  of  peace  ahead  of  the  pursuit  of 
righteousness.  In  these  speeches  and  statements  was  Stimson's 
stand  against  the  danger  he  had  warned  of  even  in  his  deliber- 
ately optimistic  assessment  of  April,  1934,  in  the  last  para- 
graph of  the  last  lecture:  "The  United  States  is  in  its  ultimate 
resources  the  world's  most  powerful  nation  today.  It  is  the 
nation  most  safely  protected  from  outside  aggression  by  its 
geographical  position.  Its  people  have  taken  historic  pride  in 
their  championships  of  peace  and  justice.  We  are  the  people, 
therefore,  who  can  most  easily  and  safely  give  sympathy, 
encouragement  and  help  to  the  world  in  its  vital  struggle  to 
protect  our  common  civilization  against  war.  On  the  other 
hand,  should  we  refuse  to  assume  even  that  measure  of  respon- 
sibility, should  we  insist  upon  our  government  retiring  into 
isolation  and  turning  its  back  upon  all  efforts  for  peace  in  other 
portions  of  the  world,  we  must  face  the  fact  that  the  peace 
machinery  will  be  infinitely  weakened  and  that  mankind 
will  be  periodically  faced  with  wars  which  may  be  as  dis- 
astrous to  us  and  to  our  own  civilization  as  to  that  of  the  rest 
of  the  world."6  We  have  seen  that  in  1931  and  1932  the  diplo- 
macy of  America  was,  in  all  conscience,  quite  sufficiently  ham- 
strung by  American  isolationism.  In  the  years  from  1935  to 
1939  Stimson  was  forced  to  watch  a  demonstration  of  still 
greater  and  more  damaging  folly.  But  he  did  not  watch  in 

In  the  early  i93o's  many  Americans  were  persuaded  by  a 
new  school  of  writers  that  in  1917  they  had  gone  to  war  not 
because  of  unrestricted  submarine  warfare,  and  still  less  be- 
cause Imperial  Germany  threatened  the  world's  freedom,  but 
because  of  the  munitions  makers,  the  bankers,  and  the  sly 
propagandists  of  England  and  France.  In  these  years  still  more 
Americans  became  convinced  by  the  same  writers  that,  what- 
ever the  reason  for  American  participation  in  the  First  World 
War,  it  had  been  a  ghastly  mistake ;  in  a  reaction  against  the  un- 
critical idealism  with  which  they  had  at  first  draped  their  cru- 

®  Democracy  and  Nationalism,  p.  86. 


sade,  the  American  people  turned  to  an  attitude  of  blanket 
repudiation  of  all  war  for  any  purpose.  This  was  the  time  in 
which  men  who  a  few  years  later  would  be  doing  manful 
service  in  the  great  effort  to  arouse  the  country  to  a  clear  and 
present  danger  were  too  often  found  among  those  who  had 
helped  forge  the  chains  of  a  neutrality  designed  to  keep  the 
country  out  of  the  First  World  War — and  most  imperfectly 
designed  at  that. 

The  first  result  of  the  new  attitude  was  a  changed  view  of 
neutrality;  in  the  belief  that  it  was  trade  with  belligerents 
which  had  dragged  America  into  the  earlier  war,  Congress 
undertook  to  legislate  a  prohibition  on  such  trade.  The  first 
such  legislation  was  passed  in  the  summer  of  1935;  it  was 
renewed  and  extended  in  1936  and  1937;  it  still  remained  in 
force  in  1939  when  war  canie.  Stimson's  opposition  began 
before  the  first  joint  resolution  was  passed,  and  increased  in 
vigor  and  outspokenness  as  the  menace  of  aggression  steadily 

On  April  25,  1935,  he  discussed  the  concept  of  neutrality 
before  the  American  Society  of  International  Law.  He  repu- 
diated both  the  traditional  neutrality  which  would  trade  with 
all  belligerents  and  the  new  "isolation"  which  would  trade 
with  none.  He  argued  that  war  itself  was  the  central  evil,  and 
that  once  "a  serious  war"  had  begun,  the  United  States  would 
suffer  heavily  whether  it  went  in  or  not.  "It  is  more  important 
to  prevent  war  anywhere  than  to  steer  our  course  after  war  has 
come" ;  "manifestly  war  can  only  be  prevented  by  co-opera- 
tion" ;  "there  is  no  place  of  human  activities  where  the  maxim 
'an  ounce  of  prevention  is  worth  a  pound  of  cure'  is  so  true  as 
it  is  in  the  realm  of  international  relations."  And  finally, 
"Neutrality  offers  no  certain  road  for  keeping  out  of  war.  The 
only  certain  way  to  keep  out  .of  a  great  war  is  to  prevent  that 
war  from  taking  place,  and  the  only  hope  of  preventing  war 
or  even  seriously  restricting  it  is  by  the  earnest,  intelligent,  and 
unselfish  co-operation  of  the  nations  of  the  world  toward  that 
end.  Until  America  is  willing  with  sympathy  and  intelligence 
to  do  her  part  in  such  an  endeavor,  the  life  of  our  whole 
modern  civilization  may  be  at  the  mercy  of  the  next  war." 

It  will  bring  into  relief  the  degree  to  which  American 


opinion  had  hardened,  ever  since  1933,  if  we  note  that  the  posi- 
tive acts  of  co-operation  for  which  Stimson  argued  in  this 
speech  were  no  more  than  a  restatement  of  his  own  doctrine  of 
consultation,  set  forth  in  August,  1932,  and  of  the  assurance 
given  by  Norman  Davis  at  Geneva  in  1933  that  the  United 
States  would  do  nothing  to  interfere  with  collective  action  by 
the  League  of  Nations  against  a  nation  which  Americans 
agreed  was  aggressive.  No  such  restatement  of  executive  policy 
was  forthcoming,  either  at  this  time  or  for  nearly  four  years 
afterward.  The  Davis  statement  had  been  the  highest  point  of 
American  postwar  co-operation;  it  was  not  favorably  received 
in  Congress,  and  until  late  in  1938  the  President  and  Secretary 
Hull,  whatever  their  private  sentiments,  felt  unable  to  play 
any  part  in  the  European  struggle  for  collective  security. 

Later  in  1935,  when  Italy  invaded  Ethiopia,  Stimson  was 
reluctantly  driven  to  a  direct  appeal  for  more  energetic  Presi- 
dential leadership.  Contemplating  this  colonial  war  of  aggres- 
sion, Congress  had  passed  a  "Neutrality  Act"  which  required 
an  embargo  on  the  export  of  arms  to  declared  belligerents.  It 
at  once  became  apparent,  in  Stimson's  view,  that  the  attempt 
to  legislate  peace  was  a  clumsy  failure.  In  this  case,  as  he 
pointed  out  in  a  letter  to  the  New  York  Times  and  a  radio 
broadcast,  the  failure  lay  mainly  in  the  narrowness  of  the 
legislation,  which  gave  the  President  no  power  to  prevent  the 
shipment  of  oil  and  other  munitions.  The  United  States  thus 
lacked  authority  for  effective  co-operation  with  the  League 
powers  in  their  attempt  to  impose  economic  sanctions. 

But  Stimson's  main  argument  this  time  was  addressed  to  the 
Chief  Executive.  He  pointed  out  that  not  a  word  had  been 
said  by  the  administration  as  to  the  issues  here  involved — 
the  moral  issue  between  an  aggressor  and  its  victim,  the 
political  issue  between  collective  security  and  international 
anarchy.  Here  Stimson  saw  a  clear  duty  of  leadership;  he 
believed  that  if  the  President  should  make  his  appeal  on  basic 
moral  and  political  grounds  he  would  be  able  to  enforce  a 
general  voluntary  trade  embargo  against  Italy.  "The  public 
opinion  of  America  is  not  indifferent  to  moral  issues.  The  great 
masses  of  our  countrymen  do  not  wish  to  drift  into  a  position 
of  blocking  the  efforts  of  other  nations  to  stamp  out  war.  The 


only  person  who  can  effectively  rouse  and  marshal  moral  opin- 
ion is  the  President  of  the  United  States,  and  when  he  tries 
to  do  so  I  have  no  doubt  of  his  eventual  success.  The  most 
adventurous  of  our  traders  would  promptly  realize  the  folly 
of  expecting  protection  in  their  dangerous  adventure  if  the 
Commander  in  Chief  of  our  American  Army  and  Navy  made 
clear  to  them  the  implications  of  this  war.  Such  an  announce- 
ment from  America  would  by  its  encouragement  of  the  earnest 
efforts  of  the  nations  of  the  world  in  their  struggle  for  peace 
go  a  long  distance  toward  insuring  the  eventual  success  of  that 

Stimson's  next  attack  on  the  prevailing  attitude  was  de- 
livered in  October,  1937,  when  Japan  began  her  war  in  China. 
The  Japanese,  he  argued,  were  encouraged  by  events  in  the 
rest  of  the  world.  "The  Fascist  dictators  of  Italy  and  Germany 
have  boldly  and  successfully  carried  through  coups  invoking  in 
Ethiopia,  the  Rhineland,  and  Spain  acts  of  treaty  violation 
and  indefensible  aggression.  On  the  other  hand,  the  peaceful 
democracies  of  the  world  .  .  .  have  yielded  to  these  lawless 
acts  of  the  dictators  with  a  lack  of  their  customary  spirit.  .  .  . 
In  America,  occupying  the  most  safe  and  defensible  position 
in  the  world,  there  has  been  no  excuse  except  faulty  reasoning 
for  the  wave  of  ostrich-like  isolationism  which  has  swept  over 
us  and  by  its  erroneous  form  of  neutrality  legislation  has 
threatened  to  bring  upon  us  in  the  future  the  very  dangers  of 
war  which  we  now  are  seeking  to  avoid."8 

The  Japanese  attack,  he  continued,  raised  questions  of  the 
most  urgent  character,  and  after  a  careful  disclaimer  of  any 
intent  to  make  more  difficult  the  trying  task  of  the  State  De- 
partment, he  gave  his  general  view  of  the  proper  American 
course.  Granting  that  American  military  action  in  Asia  was 
probably  "impossible"  and  certainly  "abhorrent  to  our  peo- 
ple," and  insisting,  as  he  always  had  and  would,  that  the  final 
destiny  of  China  must  depend  on  China  herself,  he  neverthe- 
less argued  that  the  United  States  was  not  bound  to  "a  passive 
and  shameful  acquiescence  in  the  wrong  that  is  now  being 
done."  For  a  simple  weapon  of  great  strength  was  ready  at 

7  Address  delivered  over  the  Columbia  Broadcasting  System,  October  23,  1935. 

8  Letter  to  the  New  York  Times,  October  6,  1937. 


hand,  and  in  language  as  diplomatic  as  it  was  clear  Stimson 
came  out  flatly  in  favor  of  a  trade  embargo  against  Japan, 
pointing  out  her  complete  dependence  on  the  American  and 
British  markets,  particularly  the  former.  His  position  was  set 
forth  in  paragraphs  that  stated  his  basic  attitude  on  aggres- 
sion with  the  clarity  which  was  now  permitted  to  him  as  a 
private  citizen. 

"The  present  situation  brings  out  ...  the  deep-seated  error 
which  has  pervaded  recent  American  thinking  on  international 
matters.  I  have  heard  Theodore  Roosevelt  say  that  he  put 
peace  above  everything  except  righteousness.  Where  the  two 
came  into  conflict  he  supported  righteousness.  In  our  recent 
efforts  to  avoid  war  we  have  reversed  this  principle  and  are 
trying  to  put  peace  above  righteousness.  We  have  thereby  gone 
far  toward  killing  the  influence  of  our  country  in  the  progress 
of  the  world.  At  the  same  time,  instead  of  protecting,  we  have 
endangered  our  own  peace. 

"Our  recent  neutrality  legislation  attempts  to  impose  a  dead 
level  of  neutral  conduct  on  the  part  of  our  Government  be- 
tween right  and  wrong,  between  an  aggressor  and  its  victim, 
between  a  breaker  of  the  law  of  nations  and  the  nations  who  are 
endeavoring  to  uphold  the  law.  It  won't  work.  Such  a  policy 
of  amoral  drift  by  such  a  safe  and  powerful  nation  as  our  own 
will  only  set  back  the  hands  of  progress.  It  will  not  save  us 
from  entanglement.  It  will  even  make  entanglement  more  cer- 
tain. History  has  already  amply  shown  this  last  fact." 

If  the  Japanese  wished  to  fight  a  nation  which  acted  by 
economic  measures  to  obstruct  aggression,  Stimson  was  pre- 
pared to  face  the  consequences.  But  he  expected  no  such 
result,  in  1937. 

The  proposal  of  an  embargo  fell  on  ears  not  less  deaf  than 
those  of  the  Hoover  administration  had  been  in  1932  and  1933. 
Only  the  day  before  Stimson's  letter  Mr.  Roosevelt  had 
delivered  his  famous  Chicago  speech  denouncing  the  peace- 
breakers  and  intimating  his  belief  in  a  "quarantine"  of  aggres- 
sors. From  this  speech  Stimson  at  once  took  hope,  but  in  the 
months  that  followed  Mr.  Roosevelt  seemed  to  conclude 
that  the  country  was  not  ready  for  strong  medicine,  and  the 
speech  remained  an  isolated  episode  in  a  continuing  pattern 
of  inaction. 


In  Congress,  indeed,  the  legislative  peacemaking  of  the 
ostrich  era  was  capped  by  the  attempt  at  the  turn  of  the  year 
to  enact  the  so-called  "Ludlow  Resolution  for  a  National 
Referendum  on  a  Declaration  of  War,"  under  which  any 
declaration  of  war,  except  in  reply  to  a  direct  attack,  would 
have  had  to  be  subjected  to  a  national  referendum  before  it 
could  be  executed.  This  remarkable  proposal  seemed  to  Stim- 
son  a  final  blow  at  the  authority  and  discretion  of  the  Govern- 
ment in  foreign  affairs,  and  he  wrote  a  full  and  detailed  analy- 
sis of  its  failings  in  a  letter  published  by  the  New  York  Times 
on  December  21,  1937.  This  was  to  him  a  congressional  abdica- 
tion of  all  responsibility  for  foreign  affairs;  in  addition  it 
would  certainly  strike  all  aggressors  and  potential  aggressors 
as  a  further  demonstration  that  American  foreign  policy  was 
in  the  end  dependent  on  a  political  campaign.  The  Ludlow 
Resolution  never  passed,  but  at  one  time  it  seemed  very  likely 
to  succeed.  For  Stimson  this  was  the  high  point  in  the  prewar 
self-deception  of  the  American  people. 

In  1938,  Stimson  made  no'  major  public  statement  on  foreign 
affairs.  His  stand  was  clear,  and  in  any  case  he  was  heavily 
occupied  in  the  largest  single  lawsuit  of  his  career.  He  was 
equally  busy  in  the  following  year,  but  the  pressure  and  tempo 
of  events  was  such  that  he  felt  driven  to  put  aside  his  law 
three  times  in  the  first  four  months  of  1939. 

His  first  statement  was  on  the  war  in  Spain.  It  was  a  closely 
reasoned  legal  argument  for  the  enforcement  of  the  well- 
established  rule  of  international  law  that  Sve  should  furnish 
arms  to  the  government  that  had  been  recognized  as  legal,  and 
to  no  other.'  In  the  case  of  Spain  this  was  the  Loyalist  govern- 
ment. This  was  a  statement  which  Stimson  was  sorry  he  had 
not  made  sooner.  He  had  made  no  secret  of  his  sympathy  with 
the  Loyalist  side,  but  he  had  held  back  from  direct  opposition 
to  the  policy  of  the  administration.  By  January,  1939,  it  was  too 
late  for  any  statement  to  be  of  much  use,  for  the  Republican 
government  was  at  last  being  overcome  by  the  superior  force  of 
fascist  intervention.  Stimson  was  not  a  left-winger,  but  he 
believed  and  repeatedly  argued  that  "the  Fascist  was  incom- 
parably more  dangerous  to  us;  more  active  in  their  proselytiz- 
ing, more  outrageous  and  intolerant  of  international  law  and 
methods."  And  of  course,  in  the  case  of  Spain,  it  remained  a 


clear  and  simple  fact  that  the  Republicans  were  the  legal  and 
elected  government,  recognized  as  such  by  the  United  States; 
nor  were  the  Spanish  Loyalists  in  any  sense  a  purely  communist 

In  X939  general  war  was  imminent,  and  in  1939  Franklin 
Roosevelt  began  his  long  battle  to  turn  the  American  people 
toward  the  enemy.  In  March  and  April  of  that  year  Stimson 
delivered  two  statements  in  support  of  the  President's  cam- 
paign to  bring  pressure  against  aggression  by  methods  "short 
of  war,  but  stronger  and  more  effective  than  mere  words."  One 
was  an  appeal  for  modification  of  the  Neutrality  Act.  The 
arguments  Stimson  used  in  this  statement  were  similar  to  those 
already  discussed.  The  other  was  a  letter  to  the  Times  in  which 
Stimson  developed  for  the  first  time  the  basic  conviction  which 
dominated  his  thinking  for  the  next  six  years. 

By  now  he  had  long  since  discarded  his  hope  of  1934  that 
the  Nazi  revolution  might  break  down  of  its  own  weight.  It 
was  clear  that  Hitler  had  been  permitted  to  gain  strength  and 
pass  from  one  success  to  another  until,  in  company  with  his 
Italian  and  Japanese  colleagues,  he  represented  an  over- 
whelming threat  to  Western  civilization.  This  letter  called  in 
effect  for  a  direct  military  understanding  among  the  United 
States,  Great  Britain,  and  France,  for  use  in  the  event  of  war; 
Stimson  also  paid  his  respects  to  the  faint  remaining  hope  of 
peace  by  urging  that  if  anything  could  stop  the  Nazis,  it  would 
be  the  spectacle  of  united  and  determined  democratic  opposi- 
tion. But  the  heart  of  the  letter  is  its  statement  of  the  basic 
issues;  this  was  the  foundation  of  belief  on  which  Stimson's 
whole  course  of  action  in  the  following  years  was  based  : 

"Fascism  ...  is  a  radical  attempt  to  reverse  entirely  the 
long  evolution  out  of  which  our  democracies  of  Europe  and 
America  have  grown,  and  ...  it  constitutes  probably  the 
most  serious  attack  on  their  underlying  principles  which  those 
principles  have  eyer  met. 

"We  know  now  that  the  inhabitants  of  those  countries  from 
childhood  up,  by  means  of  meticulous  and  absolute  govern- 
ment control  and  by  the  skillful  use  of  modern  engines  and 
methods  of  mass  propaganda,  are  being  taught  to  reject  free- 
dom ;  to  scorn  the  principles  of  government  by  discussion  and 


persuasion  instead  of  force,  and  to  despise  the  neighboring 
nations  which  practice  such  principles.  We  now  know  that 
those  fascist  nations  have  created  a  skillful  technique  for 
foreign  aggression  and  that  they  are  in  fact  girded  under  vir- 
tual martial  law  for  threats  and,  if  necessary,  for  acts  of  force 
upon  their  neighbors.  .  .  . 

" Furthermore,  fascism  has  involved  a  serious  moral  deteri- 
oration ;  an  increasing  and  callous  disregard  of  the  most  formal 
and  explicit  international  obligations  and  pledges;  extreme 
brutality  toward  helpless  groups  of  people;  the  complete 
destruction  within  their  jurisdiction  of  that  individual  free- 
dom of  speech,  of  thought,  and  of  the  person  which  has  been 
the  priceless  goal  of  many  centuries  of  struggle  and  the  most 
distinctive  crown  of  our  modern  civilization.  .  .  . 

"It  strongly  suggests  that  in  our  modern  interdependent 
world  Lincoln's  saying  holds  true,  that  a  house  so  divided 
against  itself  cannot  permanently  stand.  Today  the  neighbors 
of  a  fascist  nation  are  compelled  to  live  in  anticipation  of 
immediate  forceful  attack.  Such  a  situation  is  obviously  the 
reversal  of  all  civilized  international  society  as  we  have  known 
it  in  the  past  .  .  . 

"There  is  a  flood  of  reaction  and  violence  overrunning  the 
world  today.  Our  faith  is  that  this  is  temporary;  that  the  great 
progress  of  many  long  centuries  will  not  be  permanently  lost 
but  that  after  the  social  and  economic  dislocations  caused  by 
the  Great  War  are  readjusted  the  progress  in  freedom  and  in 
the  humanities  will  be  resumed.  In  the  meanwhile  and  until 
the  present  violence  has  spent  its  force  that  flood  must  be  held 
back  from  overwhelming  us 

"I  am  unalterably  opposed  to  the  doctrine  preached  in 
many  quarters  that  our  Government  and  our  people  must  treat 
the  nations  on  both  sides  of  this  great  issue  with  perfect  im- 
partiality; that,  for  example,  we  must  sell  to  a  nation  which 
has  violated  its  treaties  with  us  as  well  as  trampled  upon  the 
humanities  of  our  civilization  the  very  instruments  with  which 
to  continue  its  wrongdoing  quite  as  freely  as  we  sell  to  its 
victim  the  instruments  for  its  self-defense. 

"I  am  opposed  to  such  doctrine  because  I  am  confident  that 
we  are  confronting  an  organized  attack  upon  the  very  basis  of 


our  civilization  and  because  I  know  that  this  civilization  was 
only  achieved  by  the  development  of  what  we  call  law  and 
the  humanities;  by  the  respect  for  justice  and  fair  play  to  all 
men ;  by  the  principle  of  the  sovereignty  of  reason  rather  than 
force  and  by  the  Christian  principle  of  the  equal  value  of  all 
human  personalities. 

"Such  a  civilization  can  only  be  preserved  if  we  keep  alive 
in  our  people  their  faith  in  these  underlying  principles.  And  I 
see  no  surer  way  of  destroying  their  faith  than  by  teaching 
them  that  in  such  a  conflict  as  is  now  going  on  in  the  world 
neither  they  nor  their  government  shall  discriminate  between 
right  and  wrong,  between  an  aggressor  and  his  victim,  between 
an  upholder  of  law  and  a  violator  thereof.  .  .  . 

"We  cannot  ignore  the  fact  that  at  almost  any  moment  an 
armed  attack  may  be  aimed  by  the  fascist  group  of  powers 
against  the  vital  safety  of  one  of  the  two  peace-loving  nations 
upon  which  today  rests  in  large  part  the  safety  of  our  own 
civilization — Great  Britain  and  France. 

"Such  an  attack  would  almost  inevitably  involve  both  of 
those  nations  and  from  present  appearances  would  be  co- 
operated in  by  all  three  of  the  fascist  powers.  In  that  event 
only  one  course  could  be  depended  on  ultimately  to  save  the 
present  hard-earned  civilization  upon  which  our  own  national 
welfare  rests."9 

Thus  in  1939  Stimson  foresaw  that  if  war  came  it  would 
become  the  duty  of  America  to  prevent  a  fascist  victory.  How 
much  that  duty  would  require,  and  how  deeply  he  himself 
would  be  concerned  with  it,  he  had  of  course  no  way  of 

Meanwhile  the  year  wore  on  from  spring  to  summer,  and 
in  Europe  the  air  grew  tense  with  impending  crisis.  Stimson 
canceled  his  plans  for  a  European  vacation.  In  August  the 
German  dictator  brought  off  his  deal  with  Moscow,  and  as 
August  turned  to  September  the  Second  World  War  began. 

The  coming  of  war  in  1939,  not  for  the  first  or  last  time  in 
Stimson's  life,  was  a  relief.  It  seemed  to  mark  the  end  of  the 
hopeless  years  of  concession  and  appeasement.  He  shared  the 

9  Letter  to  New  York  Times,  March  6,  1939. 


^prevailing  opinion  of  the  Western  democratic  world,  that 
Britain  and  France  would  win  their  war.  His  confidence  in 
tdxe  French  Army  was  strong,  and  he  approved  the  strategy  of 
•delay  and  attrition  that  was  adopted  by  the  Allies  in  the  first 
months  after  the  conquest  of  Poland.  He  was  deeply  angered 
"by  talk  of  a  "phony"  war. 

This  misplaced  confidence  did  not  blind  him  to  the  great 
:issues  that  still  hung  in  the  balance,  and  he  lent  his  weight  to 
the  administration  in  the  fight  to  repeal  the  arms  embargo,  in 
September  and  October.  His  position  was  best  stated  in  a  radio 
:speech  of  October  5.  The  embargo  legislation  had  been  a  wan- 
ton encouragement  of  aggression ;  its  repeal  would  be  morally 
and  materially  a  forward  step.  Britain  and  France  were  fight- 
ing our  battle,  and  any  help  to  them  was  the  best  way  of  avoid- 
ing war  in  the  future.  Thus  far  it  was  much  the  same  argu- 
ment that  others  used,  but  we  may  note  that  Stimson  denied 
that  the  central  issue  was  "how  to  keep  the  United  States  out 
of  war."  The  "ultimate  end"  was  rather  the  safety  of  the  nation. 
"A  time  might  well  come  when  the  only  way  to  preserve  the 
security  of  the  people  of  the  United  States  would  be  to  fight 
for  that  security." 

Through  the  winter  of  1939-1940  Stimson,  with  the  rest 
of  the  world,  watched  and  waited.  Like  most  Americans  he 
disapproved  of  the  Soviet  attack  on  Finland,  and  he  acted  as 
a  personal  liaison  between  Mr.  Hoover  and  the  State  Depart- 
ment in  the  work  of  the  former  for  Finnish  relief.  He  con- 
tinued his  activity  in  support  of  an  embargo  against  Japan, 
which  still  seemed  unwise  to  the  administration.  But  his  mind 
was  on  the  Western  Front. 

The  explosion  of  Nazi  power  into  Denmark,  Norway,  Bel- 
gium, Holland,  Luxembourg,  and  France  made  the  spring 
of  1940  a  nightmare  that  none  who  lived  through  it  can  ever 
iorget.  It  became  clear  that  the  Nazi  war  machine  had  been 
tragically  underestimated,  and  it  also  appeared  that  not  one 
of  the  invaded  nations  was  as  strong  as  had  been  thought.  In 
a.  short  ten-week  period  the  whole  aspect  of  the  war  was 
changed,  and  Great  Britain  was  left  alone,  as  the  last  outpost 
of  freedom  in  Europe. 

The  effect  in  the  United  States  was  immediate.  On  the  one 


hand  there  developed  a  nearly  unanimous  determination  to 
double  and  redouble  American  military  strength,  and  enor- 
mous appropriations  were  hurriedly  passed  by  Congress.  On 
the  other  hand  the  great  debate  on  foreign  policy  was  renewed 
with  greater  violence  than  ever.  Those  who  felt  that  the  battle 
against  Hitler  was  an  American  one  argued  that  now  more 
than  ever  the  British  needed  help;  their  opponents  reiterated 
the  view  that  Europe's  internecine  strife  was  no  concern  of  the 
United  States. 

In  this  atmosphere  Stimson  went  to  New  Haven  for  the  Yale 
Commencement  of  June,  1940.  After  addressing  the  alumni  on 
the  subject  of  compulsory  military  training,  he  retired  from 
the  Commencement  celebrations  to  prepare  a  radio  speech 
which  he  delivered  on  the  following  night,  June  18.  This 
speech  fully  set  forth  his  principles  and  policies  in  the  face 
of  the  crisis ;  he  later  felt  that  its  delivery,  putting  him  squarely 
on  record  before  he  accepted  public  office,  was  one  of  the 
most  fortunate  accidents  of  his  life.  As  an  advocate  of  this 
policy  he  entered  the  Cabinet,  and  his  position  was  always 
well  known  to  those  who  dealt  with  him ;  he  was  thus  spared 
the  constant  pressure  to  trim  and  hedge  which  beset  the  other 
members  of  the  Government. 

"The  United  States  today,"  he  began,  "faces  probably  the 
greatest  crisis  in  its  history."  Civilization  had  developed  on 
the  basis  of  certain  principles  and  "today  there  has  come  a 
reversal  of  all  these  principles,  both  international  and  do- 
mestic, on  the  part  of  a  group  of  powerful  governments."  He 
restated  more  strongly  than  ever  his  conviction  that  the  world 
was  a  house  divided,  and  that  a  totalitarian  victory  would 
mean  the  end  of  freedom  throughout  the  world,  for  individuals 
as  for  nations. 

Against  this  background  Stimson  sketched  his  view  of  the 
existing  military  situation.  He  found  "an  appalling  prospect." 
Only  one  force  remained  between  the  Nazis  and  the  Western 
Hemisphere — the  British  Fleet.  The  British  Fleet,  therefore, 
must  be  sustained;  if  it  should  be  lost,  America,  almost  un- 
armed, must  stand  alone  against  the  world.  But  if  the  British 
Fleet  should  stand  unconquered,  supported  by  American  aid 
and  reinforced  by  air  power,  which  must  also  be  based  largely 


on  American  production,  defeat  might  be  prevented ;  the  Nazis 
might  be  held.  America  must  therefore  support  the  British 
Navy,  and  it  followed  that  she  must  support  and  encourage 
the  people  of  Great  Britain.  So  Stimson  came  to  his  recom- 

"First,  we  should  repeal  the  provisions  of  our  ill-starred 
so-called  neutrality  venture  which  have  acted  as  a  shackle  to 
our  true  interests  for  over  five  years. 

"Second,  we  should  throw  open  all  of  our  ports  to  the 
British  and  French  naval  and  merchant  marine  for  all  repairs 
and  refueling  and  other  naval  services. 

"Third,  we  should  accelerate  by  every  means  in  our  power 
the  sending  of  planes  and  other  munitions  to  Britain  and 
France10  on  a  scale  which  would  be  effective ;  sending  them  if 
necessary  in  our  own  ships  and  under  convoy. 

"Fourth,  we  should  refrain  from  being  fooled  by  the  evident 
bluff  of  Hitler's  so-called  fifth-column  movements  in  South 
America.  On  the  face  of  them,  they  are  attempts  to  frighten 
us  from  sending  help  where  it  will  be  most  effective. 

"Fifth,  in  order  to  assist  the  home  front  of  Britain's  defense 
we  should  open  our  lands  as  a  refuge  for  the  children  and  old 
people  of  Britain  whose  liability  to  suffering  from  air  raids 
in  Great  Britain  is  a  constant  inducement  to  surrender  to  terms 
which  she  would  otherwise  resist.  [This  last  phrase,  as  Stim- 
son later  recognized,  was  a  quite  unwarranted  underestimate 
of  British  courage.] 

"Sixth,  we  should,  every  one  of  us,  combat  the  defeatist 
arguments  which  are  being  made  in  this  country  as  to  the  un- 
conquerable power  of  Germany.  I  believe  that  if  we  use  our 
brains  and  curb  our  prejudices  we  can,  by  keeping  command 
of  the  sea,  beat  her  again  as  we  did  in  1918. 

"Finally,  we  should  at  once  adopt  a  system  of  universal 
compulsory  training  and  service  which  would  not  only  be  the 
most  potent  evidence  that  we  are  in  earnest,  but  which  is  at 
the  present  moment  imperative  if  we  are  to  have  men  ready 
to  operate  the  planes  and  other  munitions,  the  creation  of  which 
Congress  has  just  authorized  by  a  practically  unanimous  vote. 

"In  these  ways,  and  with  the  old  American  spirit  of  courage 

10  France  did  not  capitulate  until  four  days  later. 


and  leadership  behind  them,  I  believe  we  should  find  our 
people  ready  to  take  their  proper  part  in  this  threatened  world 
and  to  carry  through  to  victory,  freedom,  and  reconstruction." 

Short  of  a  direct  declaration  of  war,  it  would  have  been 
hard  to  frame  a  more  complete  program  of  resistance  to  the 
Nazis.  And  a  declaration  of  war,  then  and  for  months  there- 
after, was  not  in  Stirnson's  mind.  It  could  not  be,  because  in 
years  of  dealing  with  foreign  affairs  he  had  learned  the  neces- 
sity for  pitching  policy  to  opinion. 

As  it  was,  he  had  stepped  well  out  in  front  of  the  President 
and  most  other  leaders  in  the  debate — at  least  ahead  of  their 
published  opinions.  In  the  newspapers  the  next  morning  he 
found  himself  on  the  one  hand  a  hero  and  on  the  other  a  villain. 
But  he  did  not  have  much  time  to  consider  these  reactions,  for 
on  the  afternoon  of  June  19  he  received  a  telephone  call  from 
the  White  House. 



Call  to  Arms 


IN  HIS  New  York  office,  on  June  19,  1940,  Stimson  received 
a  telephone  call  from  the  White  House.  "I  was  called  up 
by  the  President  who  offered  me  the  position  of  Secretary  of 
War.  He  told  me  that  Knox  had  already  agreed  to  accept  the 
position  of  Secretary  of  the  Navy.  The  President  said  he  was 
very  anxious  to  have  me  accept  because  everybody  was  run- 
ning around  at  loose  ends  in  Washington  and  he  thought  I 
would  be  a  stabilizing  factor  in  whom  both  the  Army  and  the 
public  would  have  confidence."  To  say  that  Stimson  was  sur- 
prised would  be  putting  it  mildly.  He  had  known  that  Mr. 
Roosevelt  was  considering  the  appointment  of  one  or  two 
Republicans  and  that  Frank  Knox  was  among  those  being 
considered.  Like  everyone  else,  he  knew  that  the  Secretary  of 
War,  Woodring,  was  at  odds  with  both  the  President  and 
large  parts  of  the  Army.  He  did  not  suspect,  however,  that 
these  troubles  might  affect  him.  Some  weeks  before,  he  had 
heard  from  Grenville  Clark  that  his  name  had  been  suggested 
for  the  job.  Clark  had  coupled  it  with  that  of  Judge  Robert 
P.  Patterson  as  Assistant  Secretary.  He  knew  too  that  this 
suggestion  had  reached  the  President.  But  that  the  President 
should  have  listened  to  it,  and  acted  on  it,  was  astonishing.  His 
first  reaction  was  to  point  out  that  he  was  approaching  his 
seventy-third  birthday.  The  President  said  he  already  knew 
that,  and  added  that  Stimson  would  be  free  to  appoint  his  own 
Assistant  Secretary.  Patterson's  name  was  mentioned  and  ap- 
proved by  both  men.  Stimson  then  asked  for  a  few  hours  in 
which  to  consult  his  wife  and  his  professional  associates. 



"I  then  discussed  it  with  Bronson  Winthrop,  George  Rob- 
erts [two  of  his  partners]  and  Mabel.  They  all  advised  me  to 
accept.  About  seven  P.M.  I  telephoned  the  President  and  asked 
him  three  questions:  (i)  Whether  he  had  seen  my  radio 
speech  and  whether  it  would  be  embarrassing  to  him.  He  re- 
plied that  he  had  already  read  it  and  was  in  full  accord  with 
it.  (2)  I  asked  him  whether  he  knew  that  I  was  in  favor  of 
general  compulsory  military  service,  and  he  said  he  did  and 
gave  me  to  understand  that  he  was  in  sympathy  with  me.  (3) 
I  asked  him  whether  Knox  had  accepted  and  he  said  he  had. 

"I  then  accepted."  (Diary,  June  25,  1940) 

Stimson  was  inclined  later  to  think  this  diary  entry  a  trifle 
laconic ;  conversation  with  Franklin  Roosevelt  was  seldom  so 
stern  and  simple.  It  nevertheless  contained  the  meat  of  what 
was  said  on  both  sides.  Neither  man  mentioned  any  political 
aspect  of  the  appointment.  The  only  bargain  struck  on  either 
side  was  an  agreement  that  Stimson  would  be  free  to  appoint 
Patterson  as  his  own  principal  assistant.  It  was  understood  on 
both  sides,  then  and  later,  that  politics  was  not  relevant;  it  was 
equally  understood  that  Stimson  was  to  be  the  undisputed 
head  of  his  own  Department.  These  understandings  remained 
unbroken  to  the  end. 

The  appointment  of  Stimson  and  Knox  was  announced  on 
June  20,  and  Stimson  speedily  learned  that  he  was  a  highly 
controversial  figure.  The  chairman  of  the  Republican  Na- 
tional Committee  read  him  out  of  the  party,  and  Republican 
pique  was  general.  The  Republicans  were  about  to  begin  their 
convention,  and  their  minds  were  so  firmly  fixed  on  politics 
that  they  insisted  on  describing  the  President's  maneuver  as  a 
political  dodge.  This  was  probably  true,  in  part;  Stimson  was 
not  inclined  to  deny  that  Franklin  Roosevelt  was  a  talented 
politician.  But  it  did  not  seem  to  him  that  the  Republican 
outburst  was  a  skillful  riposte.  There  was  little  political  ad- 
vantage in  the  repudiation  of  two  stanch  Republicans  merely 
because  in  a  time  of  crisis  they  had  been  willing  to  take  office. 
In  effect,  the  Republican  outcry  was  a  kindness  to  the  Presi- 
dent; it  turned  over  to  him  what  credit  there  might  be  in 
rising  above  party  prejudice.  To  Stimson  personally  it  mat- 
tered very  little ;  few  of  the  present  spokesmen  of  the  party 

CALL  TO  ARMS  325 

were  his  friends,  and  from  those  Republicans  who  were  close 
to  him  he  had  many  letters  of  approval  and  congratulation. 
Should  this  outburst  mean  that  his  party  intended  in  the  crisis 
to  take  a  generally  obstructionist  position,  it  would  be  a  grave 
disappointment,  but  his  familiarity  with  the  atmosphere  of 
conventions  led  him  to  postpone  any  such  gloomy  conclusion. 
His  party  had  been  caught  off  balance,  and  some  unfortunate 
statements  had  been  made ;  perhaps  there  was  nothing  more  to 
it — perhaps  the  sentiment  of  the  Republican  rank  and  file  was 
more  accurately  represented  by  young  Harold  Stassen,  the 
Republican  keynoter,  who  rejected  efforts  to  make  him  de- 
nounce Knox  and  Stimson,  choosing  instead  to  argue  that  the 
President  in  his  hour  of  need  was  forced  to  turn  to  the  Grand 
Old  Party  for  help. 

The  immediate  problem  now  was  in  the  Senate,  where  his 
nomination  must  be  confirmed.  On  July  2  Stimson  appeared 
before  the  Committee  on  Military  Affairs,  to  which  his  name 
had  been  referred.  This  was  a  new  experience.  Four  times 
before  his  name  had  been  submitted  to  the  Senate,  and  by  four 
different  presidents.  In  none  of  these  earlier  cases  had  his 
fitness  been  seriously  questioned.  This  seemed  an  odd  time  to 
begin.  His  first  reaction  was  one  of  annoyance ;  his  second  was 
more  pugnacious — if  these  people  wanted  to  heckle  him,  he 
would  find  it  pleasant  to  hit  back.  His  third  thought,  and  the 
controlling  one,  was  that  he  must  so  conduct  himself  as  not  to 
embarrass  his  new  chief,  while  at  the  same  time  clearly  stating 
his  understanding  of  the  responsibility  for  which  he  had  been 

So  in  his  opening  statement  to  the  committee  he  reviewed 
his  position.  "The  purpose  of  our  military  policy  is ...  to  pro- 
tect from  attack  the  territory  and  rights  of  the  United  States. 
. . .  No  one  wishes  to  send  American  troops  beyond  our  borders 
unless  the  protection  of  the  United  States  makes  such  action 
absolutely  necessary.  On  the  other  hand  I  do  not  believe  that 
the  United  States  can  be  safely  protected  by  a  purely  passive 
or  defensive  defense.  I  do  not  believe  that  we  shall  be  safe 
from  invasion  if  we  sit  down  and  wait  for  the  enemy  to  attack 
our  shores." 

This  last  point  he  developed  in  detail.  He  related  it  to  the 


Monroe  Doctrine,  and  pointed  out  how  modern  warfare  had 
forced  an  extension  of  our  line  of  defense  "far  out  into  the 
Atlantic  Ocean."  This  ocean  and  the  bases  controlling  it 
were  now  gravely  menaced.  The  menace  came  from  potential 
enemies  of  a  character  unique  in  history.  Not  only  were  they 
engaged  in  systematic  aggression,  but  once  successful  they 
need  fear  no  rebellion.  "Genghis  Khan  and  Attila  the  Hun 
did  not  possess  tanks,  airplanes,  or  modern  guns,  nor  could 
they  enforce  their  rules  on  their  victims  by  a  carefully  or- 
ganized secret  police  like  the  Gestapo.  .  .  .  The  modern  con- 
queror, when  once  he  gets  into  power,  will  last  for  a  long  time. 
...  I  feel  that  \ve  are  faced  with  an  unprecedented  peril." 

The  existence  of  this  peril  was  no  pleasure  to  Stimson;  he 
had  not  conjured  it  up  as  a  source  of  excitement  for  his  declin- 
ing years.  Yet  some  such  idea  seemed  to  be  in  the  minds  of 
those  who  were  calling  him  a  warmonger,  so  he  continued  on 
a  more  personal  note.  "I  am  one  of  those  many  people  who 
after  the  great  war  labored  earnestly  for  disarmament  and  for 
the  establishment  among  the  nations  of  a  system  which  should 
be  based  upon  a  reign  of  law  rather  than  of  force,  and  I  regard 
it  as  a  world  tragedy  that  all  such  efforts  should  have  resulted 
in  failure;  but  the  facts  have  to  be  faced  today." 

As  a  beginning  in  facing  the  facts,  the  President  had  recom- 
mended and  the  Congress  had  authorized  great  appropriations 
for  increased  military  strength.  This  was  a  good  start,  but  only 
a  start.  Other  things  than  money  were  needed.  Stimson  em- 
phasized two — time  and  spirit.  Time  could  be  gained  only  if 
the  British  fleet  were  sustained.  Spirit  could  best  be  developed 
by  "establishing  a  system  of  selective  compulsory  training  and 
service."  Such  a  system  was  in  any  case  essential,  because  re- 
cruiting had  already  failed;  but  what  Stimson  emphasized 
was  its  value  to  the  morale  of  the  nation.  A  country  in  peril 
must  be  united  in  knowing  its  danger  and  working  for  its 

As  for  the  New  Haven  speech,  it  had  been  made  by  a  private 
citizen.  "When  you  are  a  private  citizen  you  can  speak  upon 
matters  which  are  of  concern  to  the  whole  Government.  When 
you  are  the  Secretary  of  War  your  duty  is  to  confine  yourself 
to  preparing  the  national  defense  of  the  United  States  so  that 

CALL  TO  ARMS  327 

it  will  be  ready  to  be  used  when  the  President  and  the  Con- 
gress ...  say  the  word,  and  that  is  the  extent  of  your  duty.'1 
He  was  not  a  stranger  to  public  office ;  he  understood  its  re- 
sponsibilities, and  the  importance  of  "prudence  and  care." 
Still  there  was  nothing  to  be  taken  back  in  the  New  Haven 
speech ;  it  might  not  fit  precisely  with  the  requirements  of  the 
moment  as  seen  from  an  official  position,  but  "everything  that 
I  have  said  or  advocated  has  been  said  in  the  interest  of  the 
defense  of  the  United  States,  and  that  alone.  I  have  had  no 
other  motive  for  what  I  have  been  talking  about,  and  it  is  the 
same  one  I  will  represent  here  if  I  am  confirmed  by  you 
gentlemen  as  Secretary  of  War — the  defense  of  the  United 

This  statement  of  his  position  did  not  satisfy  all  the  mem- 
bers of  the  committee.  For  nearly  two  hours  they  questioned 
him,  with  the  extensive  assistance  of  two  Senators  not  mem- 
bers of  the  committee,  Vandenberg  and  Taft.  The  majority  of 
the  committee  were  sympathetic;  their  few  questions  were 
simple  and  friendly.  But  a  few  were  less  gentle.  Fortunately 
the  crowd  at  the  hearing  was  mainly  friendly,  and  for  Stim- 
son  it  was  warm  work  but  not  unpleasant. 

Was  he  a  member  of  Winthrop,  Stimson,  Putnam  &  Rob- 
erts? No.  Well,  he  was  listed  as  counsel.  "That  is  a  euphemistic 
term  for  a  gentleman  who  sits  in  an  office  without  sharing  the 
profits."  (Laughter.)  Did  this  firm  have  any  clients  with  inter- 
national investments?  He  didn't  think  so,  but  he  didn't  know, 
because  he  wasn't  a  partner.  Did  he  have  any  such  clients  him- 
self? "I  do  not."  Had  he  been  present  at  a  secret  meeting  of 
eighteen  prominent  bankers  to  organize  the  Committee  to 
Defend  America  by  Aiding  the  Allies?  He  had,  but  it  was 
not  a  secret  meeting;  it  had  been  held  openly  in  one  of  the 
largest  clubs  in  New  York;  not  all  of  those  present  had  been 
bankers,  and  the  purpose  of  the  meeting  had  been  to  meet  Mr. 
William  Allen  White. 

This  was  foolishness,  but  some  of  the  questions  were  more 
serious.  Stimson  refused  to  be  drawn  into  a  discussion  of  his 
predecessor  Woodring ;  he  refused  to  say  that  he  would  never 
approve  the  transfer  of  American  arms  to  other  nations;  he 
firmly  denied  that  this  position  was  the  same  as  approval  of 


"stripping  our  own  defenses  for  the  sake  of  trying  to  stop  Hitler 
3,000  miles  away." 

As  for  his  relations  to  the  President,  of  course  they  had  had 
differences  on  domestic  issues.  No,  this  did  not  mean  that  they 
could  not  co-operate  for  national  defense.  He  explained  to 
the  committee  exactly  how  he  had  been  appointed ;  the  whole 
thing  had  no  relation  to  politics.  He  was  out  of  politics  now. 
He  retained  his  convictions,  but  he  had  a  right  to  subordinate 
their  expression  to  the  paramount  duty  he  had  accepted  from 
the  President;  his  position  was  the  same  as  that  of  any  officer 
of  the  United  States  Army. 

In  the  same  way  he  refused  to  be  drawn  into  discussion  of 
matters  that  were  properly  the  business  of  the  President  or  the 
Secretary  of  State.  He  was  unwilling  to  discuss  the  detailed 
present  application  of  policies  he  had  advocated  in  1939.  The 
more  he  was  quoted  the  better  his  prophecies  seemed,  but  he 
must  repeat  that  the  Secretary  of  War  does  not  make  policy  in 
foreign  affairs.  "Policy  is  determined  by  other  branches  of  the 
Government,  and  it  is  his  duty  to  prepare  for  the  troubles 
that  may  be  brought  about  by  their  determinations." 

Senator  Vandenberg  was  courteous  and  his  questions  were 
fair.  Would  the  policies  advocated  in  the  New  Haven  speech 
amount  to  acts  of  war?  Stimson  refused  a  direct  answer;  he 
preferred  to  call  them  legitimate  acts  of  self-defense  in  an 
emergency  in  which  traditional  concepts  of  neutrality  no 
longer  applied.  He  further  pointed  out  that  as  Secretary  of 
War  these  would  not  be  his  problems  to  decide.  The  Vanden- 
berg questions  were  the  most  interesting  and  sensible  that  he 
was  asked  by  any  opposition  Senator,  however,  and  on  his  re- 
turn to  New  York  after  the  hearing  he  sent  a  written  statement 
to  the  committee  and  to  Senator  Vandenberg  pointing  out  that 
many  close  students  of  international  law  felt  that  the  whole 
theory  of  neutrality  vis-a-vis  an  aggressor  had  disappeared 
with  the  Kellogg-Briand  Pact,  so  that  any  of  the  acts  advocated 
in  his  New  Haven  speech  would  be  fully  legal  under  interna- 
tional law. 

After  Vandenberg  came  Taft;  only  the  day  before,  both 
these  gentlemen  had  seen  their  ambitions  thwarted  by  the  nomi- 
nation of  a  dark  horse  to  be  Republican  candidate  for  Presi- 

CALL  TO  ARMS  329 

dent,  and  Stimson  allowed  himself  the  small  satisfaction  of 
asking  the  chairman  if  he  also  had  Wendell  Willkie  around. 
But  to  Taft  this  was  no  laughing  matter.  Neither  was  it  to 
Stimson ;  he  sought  no  conflict  with  the  son  of  his  old  friend 
and  chief,  and  the  only  regret  he  carried  away  from  the  hear- 
ing was  that  the  questions  put  to  him  by  Robert  Taft  should 
have  been  so  pointedly  unfriendly.  Here  was  no  effort  to  find 
out  what  he  really  thought ;  it  was  a  debater's  attempt  to  make 
him  say  things. he  did  not  mean,  and  it  was  not  worthy  of  a  son 
of  William  Taft.  And  the  worst  of  it  was  that  Senator  Taft, 
driven  by  his  own  bitter  convictions,  could  see  no  unfairness 
in  what  he  was  doing. 

First  Taft  remarked  that  Stimson  had  presented  a  novel 
view  of  the  functions  of  a  Cabinet  officer.  How  could  he  argue 
that  his  general  views  were  not  relevant  to  his  work  as  Secre- 
tary of  War?  His  views  and  advice,  as  given  to  the  President, 
would  be  just  as  important  as  the  administration  of  the  War 
Department.  How  could  he  immunize  his  views?  Taft  here 
made  a  fair  point;  Stimson's  opening  statement  was  too  strong 
in  its  insistence  that  a  Secretary  of  War  should  confine  himself 
to  preparing  the  national  defense.  Although  he  would  not  have 
the  responsibility  for  foreign  affairs,  he  would  certainly  be  an 
adviser.  Stimson  acknowledged  his  error,  admitting  that  he 
could  not  immunize  himself ;  it  was  for  that  reason,  he  said, 
that  he  had  been  so  frank  with  the  committee. 

The  discussion  then  turned  back  to  the  New  Haven  speech. 
Stimson  remarked  that  since  making  the  speech  he  had  learned 
that  the  time  for  providing  bases  to  the  British  fleet  had  prob- 
ably not  come ;  Great  Britain's  position  was  not  quite  as  desper- 
ate as  he  had  thought,  and  she  could  still  use  her  own  bases. 
"Then,"  said  Senator  Taft,  "as  I  understand  you,  you  are  in 
favor  of  joining  in  the  war  just  as  soon  as  you  figure  that  the 
British  have  no  longer  a  chance." 

"That  is  not  quite  a  fair  way  of  putting  it.  So  long  as  there 
is  a  chance  of  preserving  their  fleet  and  so  long  as  it  is  evident 
that  without  our  doing  that  [providing  bases]  .  .  .  ,  they  would 
not  be  preserved,  then  I  think  that  we  ought  to  do  it." 

And  then  Taft  tried  to  force  other  conclusions.  Would  Stim- 
son favor  giving  credits  to  the  British  if  they  ran  out  of  money? 
Would  he  go  to  war  to  prevent  the  defeat  of  England?  It  was 


not  the  questions  but  the  manner  of  their  asking  that  was 
offensive.  Each  time  Taf t  tried  to  frame  a  conclusion  and  put 
it  in  Stimson's  mouth.  And  each  time  Stimson  refused  to  eat; 
Taft  had  so  framed  the  question  as  to  leave  out  an  essential 
condition.  The  question  of  credits  to  the  British  would  depend 
on  the  circumstances  at  the  time,  and  so,  much  more,  would 
the  question  of  war.  The  essential  element  every  time  would 
be  what  were  the  best  interests  of  the  United  States,  and  you 
could  not  tell  in  advance  how  events  might  affect  those  inter- 
ests. "Until  you  put  in  all  of  those  conditions,  you  have  got  to 
refrain  from  asking  dogmatic  questions  and  I  have  to  refrain 
from  answering  such  questions." 

This  was  not  Stimson's  first  brush  with  the  isolationist  mind, 
nor  was  it  to  be  his  last;  this  time  he  was  especially  hampered 
by  the  necessity  of  confining  his  remarks  to  lines  which  would 
not  embarrass  President  Roosevelt  and  Secretary  Hull,  and 
of  course  it  was  just  that  embarrassment  which  Taft  was  eager 
to  produce.  That  the  Senator  should  try  to  gain  his  end  by  a 
cross-examination  so  narrow  and  mistrusting  deeply  disap- 
pointed Stimson.  He  was  not  personally  damaged ;  he  felt  after- 
ward that  he  had  more  than  held  his  own.  But  this  readiness, 
in  a  great  national  emergency,  to  seize  every  opportunity  of 
embarrassing  the  administration  seemed  to  him  a  fantastic 
distortion  of  partisan  duty.  He  had  been  questioned  for  two 
hours,  and  not  a  word  had  been  said  about  his  competence  to 
direct  the  Army;  the  whole  discussion  had  turned  on  other 
subjects.  This  was  to  be  the  attitude  of  the  isolationists  for  the 
next  eighteen  months  whenever  he  went  to  the  Capitol.  In 
the  Congress  were  some  of  the  ablest  and  most  f  arsighted  men 
in  the  country,  and  with  their  help  the  essential  measures  were 
passed,  but  the  hearings  and  debates  also  became  a  sounding 
board  for  the  hopelessly  twisted  views  of  a  small  group  of 
men  who,  in  the  name  of  peace,  would  have  kept  America  from 
acting  to  delay  or  block  the  greatest  aggression  in  history. 

From  the  hearing  Stimson  went  back  to  New  York  to  com- 
plete the  windup  of  his  personal  affairs.  On  July  8  he  returned 
to  Washington,  moving  into  Woodley.  It  was  good  to  be  back 
in  the  house  which,  next  only  to  Highhold,  was  his  home. 

That  same  day  he  had  a  long  talk  with  General  Marshall,  the 

CALL  TO  ARMS  331 

second  since  his  nomination  had  been  announced.  George  C. 
Marshall  was  an  officer  Stimson  had  known  for  over  twenty 
years.  His  name  had  appeared  on  lists  of  especially  qualified 
officers  collected  by  Stimson  for  Theodore  Roosevelt  in  1916 
when  the  latter  had  hoped  to  raise  a  division.  When  Stimson 
was  himself  a  soldier  in  1918,  he  had  met  Marshall  at  the  Staff 
College  in  Langres  and  had  been  so  much  impressed  that  ten 
years  later  he  had  tried  unsuccessfully  to  persuade  Marshall 
to  go  as  his  aide  to  the  Philippines.  Now  he  began  to  know  and 
appreciate  still  better  the  quality  of  the  Chief  of  Staff.  He 
soon  understood  that  the  greatest  problem  a  Secretary  of  War 
can  have  would  never  face  him  while  Marshall  was  alive  and 
well.  He  would  not  have  to  search  the  Army  for  a  good  top 
soldier.  The  right  man  was  already  there.  Only  once  in  the 
next  five  years  did  it  occur  to  Stimson  that  he  might  need  a 
new  man,  and  that  was  when  he  was  urging  the  appointment 
of  General  Marshall  to  what  he  then  considered  a  still  more 
difficult  and  critical  position. 

It  was  only  too  clear  that  there  was  much  to  be  done  in  the 
War  Department:  an  enormous  program  of  rearmament  was 
only  at  its  beginning;  an  equally  great  expansion  of  the  Army's 
numbers  was  but  sketchily  charted ;  no  trusted  staff  of  civilian 
assistants  was  at  hand ;  and  meanwhile  the  last  bastion  of 
freedom  in  Europe  was  in  deadly  danger.  But  when  Stimson's 
nomination  was  confirmed  on  July  9,  by  a  vote  of  fifty-six  to 
twenty-eight,  he  already  felt  that  there  were  better  days  ahead. 
He  was  at  work  again,  under  a  chief  whom  he  was  able 
to  admire  and  like  as  a  man,  even  as  he  respected  him  for  his 
office.  He  was  in  charge  of  the  United  States  Army,  which  for 
thirty  years  he  had  known  and  loved  and  trusted.  And  he  had 
a  good  Chief  of  Staff.  No  man,  he  later  said,  could  have  asked 
more  of  fortune  in  a  time  of  national  peril. 


When  he  was  sworn  in  at  the  White  House  on  July  10,  1940, 
Stimson  entered  an  administration  which  had  been  in  undis- 
puted control  of  the  national  government  for  over  seven  years. 
At  first  he  felt  some  of  the  sensations  of  a  college  freshman, 


and  the  kindness  and  co-operation  which  he  found  among  his 
new  colleagues  were  heartening.  It  was  immediately  clear 
that  there  was  no  division  in  Franklin  Roosevelt's  Cabinet  on 
the  central  issue — the  whole  administration  knew  that  the 
nation  was  in  danger.  Stimson  had  been  appointed  to  take 
charge  of  the  Army,  and  he  was  welcome.  With  Secretary  Hull 
he  had  right  at  the  start  "the  longest,  most  intimate  and  con- 
fidential talk  I  have  ever  had  with  him,"  and  it  was  perhaps 
indicative  of  their  new  relationship  that  "for  the  first  time  he 
went  into  domestic  politics  as  well  as  foreign  affairs."  (Diary, 
July  16,  1940)  Stimson  had  his  differences  of  opinion  with 
Cordell  Hull,  then  and  later,  but  from  his  side  at  least  there 
was  never  any  lack  of  trust  and  affection  for  a  man  whose 
position  in  the  government  was  a  good  deal  more  difficult  than 
his  own. 

A  more  surprising  but  equally  gratifying  cordiality  was 
shown  to  Stimson  on  his  arrival  by  Secretary  Morgenthau.  The 
Secretary  of  the  Treasury  had  been  closely  concerned  with 
many  of  the  problems  now  entrusted  to  Stimson ;  his  Depart- 
ment had  been  drawn  into  military  matters  as  a  result  of  Mr. 
Roosevelt's  lack  of  confidence  in  Stimson's  predecessor.  To 
Stimson  now  Morgenthau  gave  friendly  and  tactful  help  in 
learning  the  ropes.  Much  later,  when  Stimson  was  forced  to 
disagree  radically  with  Morgenthau  in  certain  subjects,  he 
remembered  the  kindness  the  latter  had  shown  him  when  he 
most  needed  it. 

The  new  Secretary  of  the  Navy,  Frank  Knox,  was  an  ac- 
quaintance of  nearly  thirty  years'  standing.  He  had  come  to 
Stimson's  office  in  the  War  Department  at  the  end  of  1911 
bearing  the  best  possible  introduction,  a  short  note  from  T.R. 
at  Sagamore  Hill  with  the  familiar  and  compelling  recom- 
mendation, "He  is  just  our  type!"  The  record  which  Knox 
later  made  as  a  liberal  Republican  had  won  Stimson's  respect, 
and  in  the  spring  of  1940  his  voice,  raised  from  Chicago  in 
energetic  advocacy  of  help  to  Britain  and  an  end  to  partisan 
squabbles,  had  been  even  more  impressive;  in  May  and  early 
June  the  two  men  had  begun  a  correspondence  full  of  the 
urgency  both  felt.  In  Washington  Knox  at  once  became  to 
Stimson  a  friend  in  all  things,  and  a  partner  in  most. 

CALL  TO  ARMS  333 

As  the  months  passed  Stimson  gradually  became  a  well- 
established  and  familiar  member  of  the  government.  Mr. 
Roosevelt's  was  an  administration  whose  inherently  disorderly 
nature  he  never  learned  to  love,  but  for  its  individual  members 
he  soon  came  to  have  respect,  and  with  most  of  them  he  estab- 
lished relations  of  friendly  confidence.  They  were  certainly 
not  the  collection  of  dangerous  and  unprincipled  power  seekers 
that  he  had  heard  denounced  in  New  York  for  seven  years. 
If  as  a  group  they  had  a  failing,  it  was  in  their  constant  readi- 
ness for  internecine  strife,  but  for  this  they  were  perhaps  less 
to  blame  than  their  chief,  who  not  infrequently  placed  his  bets 
on  two  subordinates  at  once.  To  Stimson  the  whole  notion  of 
such  conflict  was  abhorrent,  and  he  found  that  if  he  earnestly 
avoided  battle  he  could  generally  disarm  the  advancing  enemy. 
Much  of  the  trouble  grew  out  of  the  clashes  of  subordinates 
whose  loyalty  was  not  to  the  administration  as  a  whole  but  to 
some  part  of  it,  and  in  these  cases  it  was  a  sound  rule  to  smoke 
a  pipe  of  peace  with  the  rival  chieftain  rather  than  to  scamper 
to  the  White  House  with  some  one-sided  grievance.  Thus  it 
became  his  practice  to  keep  his  troubles  away  from  the  Presi- 
dent as  much  as  possible,  and  he  found  that  with  men  like  Hull, 
Morgenthau,  Knox,  Ickes,  and  Jackson  he  could  usually  reach 
a  friendly  answer  to  the  questions  noisily  raised  by  subordinates. 
There  were  cases,  later  on,  when  no  such  answer  could  be  found, 
and  more  than  once  Stimson  found  himself  fully  engaged  in  the 
unpleasant  task  of  winning  Presidential  support  for  his  posi- 
tion against  that  of  a  colleague,  but  such  battles  were  never  of 
his  own  choosing. 

Although  he  thus  established  effective  working  relations 
with  its  leaders,  Stimson  never  became  one  of  the  special 
intimates  of  the  administration,  and  he  occasionally  felt  that 
the  President  listened  too  much  to  men  who  were  not  his 
direct  constitutional  advisers.  Fortunately,  the  principal  ad- 
viser of  this  kind  was  Harry  Hopkins,  a  man  for  whom  Stim- 
son quickly  developed  the  greatest  respect,  and  with  whom 
he  established  a  relation  of  such  close  mutual  confidence  that 
he  was  often  able  to  present  the  position  of  the  War  Depart- 
ment more  effectively  through  Hopkins  than  he  could  in 
direct  conversation  with  the  President.  Hopkins  was  an  ex- 


traordinary  figure;  he  possessed  a  mind  of  unusual  quickness 
and  flexibility,  and  a  sure  judgment  of  both  men  and  affairs; 
his  special  value  to  the  President  lay  in  his  combination  of 
complete  loyalty  and  a  sensitive  understanding  of  Mr.  Roose- 
velt's complex  nature.  During  Stimson's  years  in  Washington, 
the  great  influence  of  Hopkins  was  time  and  again  exerted  on 
behalf  of  the  War  Department.  "The  more  I  think  of  it,  the 
more  I  think  it  is  a  godsend  that  he  should  be  at  the  White 
House."  (Diary,  March  5,  1941) 

Another  White  House  u  godsend"  was  Major  General  Edwin 
M.  Watson,  called  "Pa"  by  half  official  Washington.  Watson's 
extraordinary  personal  friendliness  and  conviviality  covered  a 
discerning  mind  and  a  strong  heart  and,  like  Hopkins,  Watson 
loved  his  chief  too  well  to  withhold  frank  advice  and  counsel. 
To  Stimson  he  was  invariably  a  sympathetic  and  knowing 

No  discussion  of  Stimson's  relationship  to  the  administra- 
tion would  be  complete  without  one  further  name,  that  of 
Mr.  Justice  Frankfurter.  Without  the  least  deviation  from  his 
fastidious  devotion  to  the  high  traditions  of  the  Supreme 
Court,  Felix  Frankfurter  made  himself  a  continual  source  of 
comfort  and  help  to  Stimson.  Although  he  never  heard  a  word 
of  it  from  Frankfurter,  Stimson  believed  that  his  own  pres- 
ence in  Washington  was  in  some  degree  the  result  of  Frank- 
furter's close  relationship  to  the  President.  In  any  event,  he 
found  Frankfurter  always  the  most  devoted  of  friends  and 
the  most  zealous  of  private  helpers,  and  the  Justice's  long  and 
intimate  knowledge  of  the  Roosevelt  administration  was 
placed  entirely  at  his  disposal.  Time  after  time,  when  critical 
issues  developed,  Stimson  turned  to  Frankfurter;  sometimes 
he  heard  from  Frankfurter  even  before  he  had  turned.  It  is 
not  fitting  that  the  activities  of  a  Justice  still  serving  on  the 
Court  should  be  discussed  in  detail,  and  Mr.  Justice  Frank- 
furter will  not  be  mentioned  again;  there  was  in  his  relation- 
ship with  Stimson  nothing,  of  course,  that  even  remotely 
touched  upon  his  duties  as  a  Justice,  while  there  was  much 
that  added  to  the  country's  debt  to  a  distinguished  American. 

And  as  time  passed,  Stimson  fully  clarified  his  purpose  and 
his  position  in  the  eyes  of  the  professional  politicians  and 

CALL  TO  ARMS  335 

Congress.  After  the  first  loud  objections  to  his  appointment, 
on  the  ground  that  it  was  the  product  of  a  devious  political 
mind,  there  was  not  much  noise  until  just  after  the  election, 
when  there  were  rumors  that  now  the  superannuated  Repub- 
lican stopgap  would  resign,  his  function  fulfilled.  "Of  course 
it  is  not  a  pleasant  matter  and  troubled  .  .  .  me  ...  a  good 
deal,  so  I  decided  to  take  it  up  with  the  President  after  the 
Cabinet  meeting.  I  did  so  and  he  was  very  nice  about  it  and 
I  found  out  from  him  then  that  he  had  already  this  morning 
taken  the  matter  up  at  his  press  conference.  The  question  had 
been  asked  him  on  the  subject  and  he  had  stigmatized  it  'off 
the  record'  as  a  lie,  and  'on  the  record'  that  it  was  only  imag- 
inary." (Diary,  November  8,  1940)  Stimson  never  knew 
whether  the  President  had  originally  intended  that  he  should 
stay  indefinitely  as  Secretary  of  War,  but  this  interview  in 
November  was  typical  of  the  response  he  met  from  the  White 
House  on  the  two  or  three  Jater  occasions  when  he  was  con- 
cerned about  his  usefulness  to  his  chief.  On  the  whole  it 
seemed  likely  that  the  President  thought  about  the  matter  as 
little  as  Stimson  himself.  The  latter  had  believed  in  the  be- 
ginning that  he  would  be  in  Washington  perhaps  a  year  or 
eighteen  months,  until  the  War  Department  was  fully  abreast 
of  its  duties  and  the  work  had  become  routine.  No  such  time 
ever  developed,  and  by  the  spring  of  1941  he  no  longer 
thought  of  any  early  end  to  his  labors.  He  and  Knox  had 
established  themselves  as  permanent  members  of  the  admin- 

As  doubts  about  his  permanence  died  down,  he  found  him- 
self in  an  unusual  position,  politically.  He  owed  nothing  to 
anybody  except  the  President  who  had  appointed  him,  and 
the  President  demanded  absolutely  none  of  the  usual  political 
support  and  assistance.  This  independence  Stimson  demon- 
strated in  the  campaign  of  1940  by  maintaining  a  silence  so 
complete  that,  as  he  remarked  to  a  friend,  'no  one  but  my 
Maker  knows  how  I  am  going  to  vote.'  The  diary  entry  of 
October  27  explains  this  decision.  "I  shall  not  take  any  part 
in  the  campaign.  I  think  that  is  more  in  accord  with  the  job 
that  I  have  taken  and  the  way  in  which  it  was  offered  me 
and  the  way  in  which  I  have  accepted  it.  I  think  it  would 


probably  be  better  for  the  President  as  well  as  myself  if  I 
remain  as  I  have  been — a  Republican  doing  nonpartisan  work 
for  a  Democratic  President  because  it  related  to  international 
affairs  in  which  I  agreed  and  sympathized  with  his  policies. 
To  go  actively  into  the  campaign  would  arouse  great  antag- 
onism from  a  great  many  people  on  immaterial  issues  and 
would  prevent  me  from  doing  the  service  that  I  want  to  do 
for  the  country  and  for  the  cause  of  national  defense.  Having 
made  that  decision  I  felt  better  and  enjoyed  my  ride.  .  .  ." 
As  a  matter  of  fact  Stimson  voted  for  Roosevelt;  it  was  a 
natural  decision,  and  perhaps  many  men  guessed  Stimson's 
mind,  but  he  spoke  no  public  word  whatever,  and  his  reasons 
for  his  vote,  like  his  reasons  for  silence,  were  confided  only 
to  the  diary:  "Roosevelt  has  won  another  sweeping  vic- 
tory. ...  It  is  a  tremendous  relief  to  have  this  thing  over  and 
I  think  that  from  the  standpoint  of  immediate  events  in  the 
war,  particularly  during  the  coming  spring  and  summer,  the 
election  will  be  very  salutary  to  the  cause  of  stopping  Hitler." 
(Diary,  November  6,  1940) 

This  decision  to  remain  completely  out  of  politics  Stimson 
considered  one  of  the  wisest  he  ever  made.  By  it  he  and  his 
Department  avoided  any  responsibility  for  any  part  of  the 
President's  record  except  as  it  concerned  the  national  defense ; 
he  also  avoided  antagonism  from  the  Republican  side  which 
would  have  been  inevitable  if  he  had  thrown  his  weight  pub- 
licly against  the  Republican  candidate.  He  was  thus  able  to 
maintain  his  position  before  Republicans  in  Congress  as  coun- 
sel for  the  situation.  "Jim  Wadsworth  [Congressman  James 
W.  Wadsworth  of  New  York,  Stimson's  old  friend]  came  in 
to  see  me  and  I  had  a  long  talk  with  him.  .  .  .  He  was  very 
much  impressed  with  the  seriousness  of  the  [international] 
situation  and  told  me  so.  His  advice  was  that  I  should  get  in 
touch  with  the  Republicans  so  far  as  I  could  of  the  Congress. 

.  .  .  He  said was  an  honest  man  and  that  he  trusted  me, 

which  I  was  very  much  surprised  at  and  I  told  Wadsworth 
so.  Wadsworth  repeated  it  as  being  true  of  practically  all  of 
the  Republicans."  (Diary,  January  24,  1941) 

At  the  same  time,  taking  their  cue  from  the  President,  the 
Democrats  maintained  a  continuously  friendly  attitude  to- 

CALL  TO  ARMS  337 

ward  Stimson,  accepting  with  good  will  his  insistence  that 
the  War  Department  could  not  permit  political  considera- 
tions to  control  its  decisions.  He,  for  his  part,  maintained 
cordial  relations  with  the  Democratic  leaders  and,  as  always 
in  his  political  life,  found  that  once  the  central  issue  of  parti- 
san opposition  is  removed,  there  are  few  roses  so  sweet  as  those 
that  grow  over  the  party  wall.  The  following  diary  entry  is 
typical;  just  before  the  1940  election  he  learned  that  "a  mis- 
take had  been  uncovered  in  the  Adjutant  General's  Depart- 
ment in  regard  to  Senator  Pat  Harrison's  request  for 
establishing  a  C.C.C.  camp  distribution  system  at  McComb, 
Mississippi,  instead  of  across  the  river  in  Louisiana.  The 
Department  had  reported  that  it  couldn't  be  done  as  cheaply 
in  Mississippi  as  Louisiana.  I  was  rather  distressed  at  this 
because  we  have  been  obliged  to  refuse  already  one  or  two 
other  requests  of  Harrison's  who  has  always  been  a  faithful 
and  loyal  helper  in  military  matters.  This  seemed  to  me  a 
request  that  we  ought  to  be  able  to  grant.  It  now  appeared  by 
telephone  .  .  .  that  the  Adjutant  General  was  mistaken  and 
that  it  could  be  granted  more  cheaply  for  McComb  than  for 
Louisiana,  and  I  told  Brooks  at  once  to  telegraph  Harrison 
and  his  committee  who  were  coming  up  to  see  me  about  it, 
that  they  needn't  come  and  the  request  was  granted.  When  I 
arrived  back  in  Washington  ...  I  found  a  very  grateful  tele- 
gram from  him."  (Diary,  November  2,  1940) 

Only  once  in  this  period  did  Stimson  have  a  painful  re- 
minder of  the  baneful  influence  of  politics.  The  diary  entry 
speaks  for  itself.  "Bob  Patterson  has  been  making  a  number 
of  appointments  in  the  Procurement  Branch  of  the  office — 
this  time  of  young  lawyers  to  help  out.  All  his  appointments 
are  good,  chosen  purely  from  a  professional  standpoint  and 
men  of  high  character.  But  among  them  he  selected  Henry 
Parkman,  Jr.,  of  Massachusetts,  to  be  one  of  the  attorneys  of 
the  Department  and  Parkman  was  the  Republican  candidate 
in  Massachusetts  last  fall  for  Senator  against  Senator  Walsh. 
Consequently  when  I  got  back  to  the  Department  yesterday 
I  was  met  with  a  terrific  telegram  from  Walsh,  professing  to 
be  astounded  at  such  an  appointment;  claiming  that  Parkman 
had  conducted  a  very  low  campaign  against  him;  stating  that 


he  was  personally  obnoxious  to  himself  (Walsh)  and  demand- 
ing that  I  reconsider  the  appointment.  This  made  a  tough 
situation,  for  Walsh  is  quite  capable  of  doing  much  harm  to 
the  Department's  work  up  on  the  Hill  and  undoubtedly  may 
try  to  do  so.  I  had  a  talk  with  Patterson  .  .  .  and  of  course  he 
was  pretty  stiff  about  not  yielding,  but  unfortunately  he  has 
not  got  as  much  experience  as  I  have  had  with  the  difficulties 
of  such  a  situation  with  a  hostile  Senator.  I  talked  with  Park- 
man  whom  I  had  not  met  before  but  who  was  a  very  fine-look- 
ing fellow  and  evidently  a  good  man  and  he  was  considerate 
enough  to  suggest  that  he  had  better  withdraw.  I  told  him  not 
to  do  so  for  a  while — that  I  felt  very  badly  about  it  and  that 
I  would  talk  with  Walsh  and  see  first  what  could  be  done. 
Unfortunately  Walsh  was  not  in  Washington,  so  ...  I  called 
him  on  the  long-distance  telephone  at  Clinton,  Massachusetts, 
and  he  nearly  blew  me  off  the  end  of  the  telephone,  he  was 
so  angry  and  bitter.  He  is  evidently  making  it  a  party  matter, 
as  the  Democratic  chairman  has  also  written  to  Roosevelt 
about  it.  Of  course  it  was  not  a  party  matter,  but  the  trouble 
is  no  one  will  believe  it.  No  one  will  believe  that  we  did  not 
both  know  that  he  was  a  Republican  candidate  for  Senator, 
although  as  a  matter  of  fact  I  had  never  heard  of  him.  ...  It 
is  pretty  hard  to  have  such  a  thing  happen,  making  the  pos- 
sibility of  such  a  critical  mess  to  the  Department.  It  brings 
out  the  delicacy  of  the  situation  in  which  I  am,  in  a  Demo- 
cratic Cabinet,  and  the  good  luck  I  have  had  thus  far  in 
avoiding  trouble  all  through  the  political  campaign.   I  am 
very  anxious  not  to  spoil  all  matters  now  by  this  kind  of  a  row 
which  may  spread  in  all  directions.  On  the  other  hand,  it  is 
very  hard  to  sacrifice  Parkman,  although  he  was  very  nice 
about  it,  and  his  withdrawal  will  not  really  be  commensurate 
with  the  harm  that  may  be  done  to  the  Department."  (Diary, 
December  n,  1940) 

The  core  of  the  difficulty  here  was  in  the  fact  that  Walsh, 
a  vindictive  man,  was  no  friend  to  the  President;  he  was 
also  an  isolationist.  As  a  veteran  Democrat  quite  prepared  to 
cause  maximum  embarrassment  to  the  administration  in  its 
policy  toward  the  world  crisis,  he  was  extremely  dangerous. 
Stimson  reached  his  decision  that  same  night.  "I  spent  con- 

CALL  TO  ARMS  339 

siderable  time  in  my  bed  last  night  thinking  the  thing  out  and 
finally  came  to  the  conclusion  that  it  was  my  duty  toward  the 
job  and  toward  the  President  not  to  allow  this  row  with  Walsh 
to  come  up  in  the  Department,  particularly  because  I  did  not 
want  to  have  him  raise  the  issue  that  he  surely  would  raise 
of  the  President's  conduct  of  the  war,  now,  prematurely,  be- 
fore the  President  has  chosen  his  own  ground."  Stimson  asked 
a  close  friend  who  also  knew  Parkman  to  explain  the  situation 
to  the  latter,  and  "Parkman  came  back  and  positively  refused 
to  run  the  risk  of  embarrassing  us  and  declined  to  take  the  job. 
He  behaved  very  finely  about  it.  I  felt  very  badly  and  told 
him  so."  (Diary,  December  12,  1940)  This  surrender  to 
Walsh  was  a  bitter  decision;  Stimson  took  great  satisfaction 
in  Henry  Parkman's  later  distinguished  service  as  an  officer 
who  rose  to  the  grade  of  brigadier  general,  and  he  was  de- 
lighted when  Walsh  was  finally  retired  from  public  life  by 
another  soldier  in  1946.- 

In  a  sense,  of  course,  it  was  politically  unwise  for  Patterson 
to  have  appointed  Parkman  in  the  first  place,  but  it  was  this 
kind  of  political  unwisdom  that  Stimson  loved  in  Patterson; 
his  rugged  integrity  was  in  the  end  an  asset  that  far  out- 
weighed the  occasional  difficulties  it  caused.  The  real  signifi- 
cance of  the  Parkman  case  was  that  it  stood  almost  alone.  In 
only  one  other  case  throughout  the  war  did  Stimson  have  to 
withdraw  an  intended  appointment  to  his  Department,  and  in 
this  instance  the  veto  came  from  the  President,  probably  as  a 
result  of  misinformation  given  him  by  others.  Stimson,  how- 
ever, did  not  go  out  of  his  way  to  appoint  the  avowed  enemies 
of  powerful  Senators,  and  in  all  important  cases  he  cleared 
his  appointments  with  the  White  House. 

It  was  Walsh's  isolationism  that  made  him  dangerous,  and 
throughout  the  war  Stimson  was  to  find  his  principal  political 
difficulties  with  those  in  both  parties  whose  objective  was  to 
discredit  the  administration's  foreign  policy.  Thus  his  real 
opponents  were  the  President's  opponents,  too,  and  his  posi- 
tion in  this  respect  was  like  that  of  any  ordinary  Cabinet 
member.  With  these  opponents  there  could  be  no  real  peace 
or  mutual  trust,  but  it  was  important  to  fight  them  only  on 
the  central  front. 


The  success  with  which  the  War  Department  kept  itself 
aloof  from  politics  was  strikingly  demonstrated  much  later, 
in  1944,  when  the  Congress  entrusted  the  supervision  of  voting 
in  the  armed  forces  to  a  three-man  commission  consisting  of 
the  Secretary  of  War,  the  Secretary  of  the  Navy,  and  the 
chairman  of  the  Maritime  Commission,  Admiral  Land.  Stim- 
son  observed  with  some  amusement  that  two  members  of  the 
original  commission  were  Republicans,  while  the  third  was 
a  professional  sailor.  There  was  a  mild  flurry  at  the  White 
House  over  the  composition  of  the  staff  which  Stimson  estab- 
lished in  the  War  Department  to  manage  his  share  of  the 
soldier  voting;  the  officer  in  charge  of  the  work  was  Colonel 
Robert  Cutler,  and  although  he  had  been  politically  active 
only  as  corporation  counsel  to  a  Democratic  mayor  of  Boston, 
he  was  a  registered  Republican.  But  Mr.  Roosevelt  was  less 
disturbed  than  his  professional  Democratic  advisers,  and 
Cutler  remained  on  the  job,  with  a  Democrat  added  to  his 
staff  in  order  to  disarm  criticism.  Both  in  the  War  Ballot 
Commission  and  in  the  Army,  soldier  voting  was  so  smoothly 
and  fairly  handled  that  Stimson  felt  a  deep  personal  debt  to 
Cutler.  No  job  entrusted  to  his  supervision  during  the  entire 
war  had  held  more  explosive  possibilities,  and  none  was  ac- 
complished with  less  friction. 


It  is  a  sound  rule  for  a  newcomer  in  any  organization  to 
learn  his  own  particular  job  before  he  makes  much  noise. 
Stimson's  attention,  in  the  early.summer  of  1940,  was  directed 
mainly  at  his  own  Department.  There  was  much  to  be  done. 
The  first  task,  and  perhaps  the  most  important,  was  to  restore 
the  unity  and  morale  of  the  Department.  The  civilian  chiefs 
of  the  service  departments,  Stimson  once  remarked,  may  not 
be  able  to  do  very  much  good,  but  they  certainly  have  it  in 
their  power  to  do  a  vast  deal  of  harm.  They  necessarily  out- 
rank any  and  all  military  men,  and  when  their  power  is  mis- 
used, or  when  they  are  at  odds  with  one  another,  the  results 
within  the  service  are  distressing.  Some  such  situation  seemed 
to  have  arisen  in  the  months  before  Stimson's  arrival,  and  his 

CALL  TO  ARMS  341 

first  job  was  to  re-establish  a  proper  mutual  confidence  be- 
tween the  Secretary,  the  Assistant  Secretary,  and  the  Army. 

As  for  his  own  relationship  to  the  Army,  Stimson  could 
only  say  that  the  problem  never  came  up.  He  had  the  very 
great — and  unusual — advantage  of  extensive  experience  with 
military  men,  and  from  his  first  day  in  office  he  found  no 
cause  to  complain  of  any  lack  of  loyal  support.  In  his  first 
message  to  the  Army,  on  July  19,  he  remarked  on  the  "good 
spirit  of  co-operation"  he  had  already  found,  and  this  was  not 
wishful  thinking.  If  the  Cabinet  had  shown  him  the  cordiality 
of  sympathetic  strangers,  the  Army  seemed  to  meet  him  as  an 
old  friend.  To  those  who  disliked  soldiers,  this  friendship 
might  give  the  appearance  that  one  more  civilian  had  been 
captured  and  tamed  by  the  ferocious  militarists.  To  Stimson 
it  was  encouraging  assurance  that  an  essential  condition  of 
his  effectiveness  had  been  fulfilled. 

Just  as  important  as  his  own  relationship  with  the  Army 
was  the  development  of  a  staff  of  assistants  who  would  work 
in  the  same  spirit.  The  most  important  single  accomplishment 
of  Stimson's  first  year  in  office  was  his  success  in  assembling 
a  team  of  civilian  associates  which  he  later  believed  to  be  the 
best  he  ever  had,  in  any  office.  Even  if  it  had  been  possible  to 
make  the  War  Department  a  one-man  show,  Stimson's  whole 
experience  of  administration  was  against  such  a  course.  At 
the  same  time  he  was  not  temperamentally  fitted  for  service  as 
a  figurehead.  He  therefore  required  as  his  principal  assistants 
men  who  could  combine  intelligence  and  initiative  with  flaw- 
less loyalty  to  him  as  chief,  and  such  men  are  more  easily 
described  than  found.  During  his  first  months  in  Washington 
he  was  greatly  helped  by  Arthur  E.  Palmer,  a  young  lawyer 
from  his  New  York  firm,  but  Palmer  was  too  young  to  be 
happy  out  of  uniform,  and  only  Patterson  of  all  his  civilian 
assistants  was  with  Stimson  from  the  beginning  to  the  end. 

In  accordance  with  the  original  understanding  between  the 
President  and  Stimson,  Patterson  was  appointed  and  con- 
firmed as  Assistant  Secretary  of  War  and  was  at  work  by  the 
end  of  July.  His  arrival  ended  for  good  the  division  between 
the  Secretary  and  the  Assistant  Secretary  which  had  been 
conspicuous  in  the  early  months  of  1940.  He  at  once  assumed 


direct  responsibility  for  the  vast  Army  program  of  procure- 
ment, and  throughout  the  five  years  that  followed  he  relieved 
Stimson  of  all  but  occasional  labors  in  this  great  field. 

Probably  no  man  in  the  administration  was  more  ruthlessly 
determined  to  fulfill  his  assignment  than  Patterson;  he  pro- 
posed to  let  nothing  block  him  in  his  effort  to  equip  the  armies 
of  the  anti-Axis  world.  He  had  known  war  at  very  close  range 
in  1918;  he  was  at  war  from  1940  onward,  and  he  had  a  fierce 
hatred  of  all  delay  and  any  compromise;  his  only  test  of  any 
measure  was  whether  it  would  help  to  win,  and  for  any  group 
or  individual  who  blinked  at  sacrifice  he  had  only  scorn.  He 
himself  was  so  zealous  to  fight  that  only  Stimson's  personal 
plea  prevented  him  from  resigning  his  office  in  1944  to  take 
a  commission  as  an  infantry  officer  again.  Patterson  was  a 
fighter,  and  although  he  was  perhaps  not  always  perfect  in 
his  choice  of  a  battleground,  his  instinct  in  the  choice  of 
enemies  was  unerring. 

The  next  great  find  was  John  J.  McCloy,  a  man  whose 
record  so  distinguished  him  that  Stimson's  principal  difficulty 
was  to  retain  his  services  for  the  War  Department.  He  first 
came  to  Washington  at  Stimson's  personal  request  to  advise 
the  War  Department  in  its  counterintelligence  work;  after 
years  of  work  as  a  lawyer  investigating  the  Black  Tom  case 
he  had  a  wide  knowledge  of  German  subversive  methods. 
Stimson's  early  high  opinion  of  him  was  reinforced  by  every 
report  received  on  his  work,  and  in  October,  1940,  he  was 
appointed  as  a  special  assistant.  So  varied  were  his  labors  and 
so  catholic  his  interests  that  they  defy  summary.  For  five  years 
McCloy  was  the  man  who  handled  everything  that  no  one 
else  happened  to  be  handling.  He  became  Stimson's  principal 
adviser  in  the  battle  for  the  Lend-Lease  Act  and  it  was  his 
skillful  preparation  that  cleared  the  way  for  the  War  Depart- 
ment's successful  assumption  of  the  whole  military  burden  of 
lend-lease  procurement.  Later  he  was  Stimson's  chief  adviser 
on  matters  connected  with  international  relations  and  his 
agent  in  supervising  the  great  work  of  military  government. 
He  was  equally  good  in  a  complicated  interdepartmental  ne- 
gotiation or  in  dealing  with  Congress.  His  energy  was  enor- 
mous, and  his  optimism  almost  unquenchable.  He  became  so 

CALL  TO  ARMS  343 

knowing  in  the  ways  of  Washington  that  Stimson  sometimes 
wondered  whether  anyone  in  the  administration  ever  acted 
without  "having  a  word  with  McCloy";  when  occasionally 
he  was  the  first  to  give  McCloy  important  news  he  would  re- 
mark that  his  assistant  must  be  weakening. 

The  third  of  the  Secretary's  principal  subordinates  was 
Robert  A.  Lovett,  who  arrived  in  November,  1940,  to  be 
Stimson's  air  assistant.  For  this  duty  he  was  conspicuously 
suited.  His  enthusiasm  for  airplanes  had  made  him  a  naval 
pilot  of  distinguished  skill  in  World  War  I,  and  in  the  years 
between  wars  he  maintained  his  keen  interest  in  the  subject. 
In  1940  when  he  came  to  Washington  he  had  just  completed, 
as  a  private  citizen,  a  careful  survey  of  the  whole  problem  of 
air  power  and  aircraft  production  in  the  United  States.  He 
thus  brought  to  his  job  the  understanding  and  enthusiasm 
which  were  indispensable  to  a  civilian  dealing  with  the  Army 
Air  Forces,  while  at  the  same  time  his  sensitive  intelligence 
enabled  him  to  maintain  cordial  relations  with  the  non-fliers 
of  the  Department.  Lovett  possessed  incisive  judgment  and 
a  pertinent  wit.  He  served  Stimson  in  all  matters  affecting  the 
Air  Forces  as  Patterson  served  in  procurement  and  supply. 
Both  were  in  a  high  degree  autonomous  officers;  both  com- 
bined initiative  with  loyalty. 

By  April,  1941,  these  three  men  were  in  the  jobs  they  were 
to  hold  throughout  the  war.  In  December,  1940,  Patterson 
had  been  appointed  to  the  newly  created  office  of  Under  Sec- 
retary, and  in  April  McCloy  succeeded  him  as  Assistant 
Secretary,  while  at  the  same  time  Lovett  was  appointed  to  the 
long-vacant  position  of  Assistant  Secretary  for  Air. 

In  the  same  month  Stimson  acquired  a  fourth  assistant  in 
Harvey  H.  Bundy,  who  had  served  with  him  before  as  As- 
sistant Secretary  of  State  from  1931  to  1933.  With  the  title 
of  Special  Assistant  to  the  Secretary,  Bundy  became  "my 
closest  personal  assistant."  A  man  of  unusual  tact  and  discre- 
tion, Bundy  handled  many  of  Stimson's  troubling  problems 
of  administration  and  correspondence  and  served  as  his  filter 
for  all  sorts  of  men  and  problems.  He  also  became  the  Secre- 
tary's personal  agent  in  dealings  with  scientists  and  educators, 


two  groups  whose  importance  was  as  great  as  it  was  unfamiliar 
in  the  great  new  army  of  machines  and  civilian  soldiers. 

These  four  men  were  the  "sixty-minute  players"  in  a  team 
to  which  many  others  were  added  for  special  purposes  at  dif- 
ferent times.  Their  characteristics  as  individuals  are  perhaps 
less  important  than  the  things  they  had  in  common.  All  were 
men  in  the  prime  of  life,  the  forties  and  fifties,  but  all  were 
so  much  younger  than  Stimson  that  none  ever  called  him  by 
his  first  name.  All  four  had  been  conspicuously  successful  in 
private  life,  three  as  lawyers  and  one  as  a  banker ;  all  of  them 
came  to  Washington  at  serious  financial  sacrifice.  None  of 
them  had  ever  been  politically  active,  and  none  had  any  con- 
suming political  ambition.  All  four  were  men  of  absolute 
integrity,  and  none  was  small-minded  about  credit  for  his 
labors.  All  but  one  were  Republicans,  but  not  one  of  them  ever 
aroused  partisan  opposition.  They  were  civilians,  but  they 
earned  the  unreserved  confidence  of  the  Army.  All  of  them 
were  wholehearted  in  their  loyalty,  but  none  interpreted  loy- 
alty as  merely  a  duty  to  say  yes,  and  Stimson  often  trusted  their 
judgment  against  his  own,  especially  when  he  was  angry.  In 
later  chapters  their  names  will  be  often  mentioned,  and  even 
when  they  are  not  mentioned  the  reader  must  bear  in  mind 
that  very  little  of  what  Stimson  did  was  done  without  their 
advice  and  help. 

And  with  these  men  Stimson  established  a  relationship  that 
was  in  many  ways  closer  than  anything  he  had  known  before 
in  public  office.  These  were  men  who  knew  how  to  laugh  with 
him  at  trying  events;  nor  were  they  put  off  or  dismayed  by 
his  occasional  thunderous  anger.  They  could  complain  about 
him  to  Mrs.  Stimson  as  a  bad-tempered  tyrant  who  "roared 
like  a  lion,"  but  such  complaints  were  registered  in  his  pres- 
ence with  the  teasing  smile  of  members  of  the  family.  And  as 
he  looked  back  in  1947,  he  felt  a  deep  and  affectionate  nostal- 
gia for  the  days  when  he  had  shared  Patterson's  wrath  at  in- 
competence, laughed  at  the  zealous  omniscience  of  his  heav- 
enly twain  McCloy  and  Lovett,  fumed  at  Bundy's  constant 
advice  not  to  act  on  impulse,  and  lectured  them  all  over  the 
interoffice  "squawk  box"  in  tones  they  all  proclaimed  as  un- 

C  H  A  P  T  E  R    XIV 

The  First  Year 


DURING  the  months  in  which  he  was  feeling  his  way 
toward  full  membership  in  the  administration,  and 
well  before  he  had  obtained  the  help  of  most  of  the  civilian 
assistants  upon  whom  he  later  so  heavily  relied,  Stimson  was 
fully  engaged  in  the  urgent  immediate  task  of  raising  an  army. 

At  New  Haven  in  June,  in  his  talks  with  the  President, 
before  his  appointment,  and  at  the  Senate  hearing  on  his  con- 
firmation, he  had  emphasized  his  conviction  that  a  selective 
service  bill  should  be  enacted  at  once.  Such  a  bill  was  pend- 
ing before  Congress  when  he  took  office,  and  his  energies, 
through  July  and  August  of  1940,  were  largely  devoted  to  the 
struggle  for  its  enactment. 

The  principal  difficulty  was  not  in  the  opposition  of  those 
groups  which  always  oppose  conscription  but  rather  in  the 
widespread  feeling  among  its  supporters  that  no  act  so  con- 
troversial could  be  passed  in  an  election  year.  Even  the  Army, 
which  of  course  supported  the  bill  as  essential  to  an  effective 
mobilization  of  manpower,  was  at  first  pessimistic.  The  sol- 
diers had  been  outcasts  for  so  long  that  they  were  afraid  to 
count  on  early  acceptance  of  the  novel  principle  of  compul- 
sory peacetime  service.  Nor  could  they  be  of  any  great  assist- 
ance in  winning  support  for  such  a  measure;  it  was  better  that 
the  "militarists"  should  remain  in  the  background. 

The  Burke-Wadsworth  Bill  was  thus  not,  in  its  origin,  a 
War  Department  bill,  though  it  was  based  in  large  part  on  joint 
Army-Navy  staff  studies.  It  was  introduced  by  two  f  arsighted 
members  of  Congress ;  it  had  been  framed  by  a  small  group  of 



well-informed  •  private  citizens  in  the  Military  Training 
Camps  Association.  Without  this  private  initiative,  and  par- 
ticularly without  the  indefatigable  and  intelligent  work  of 
Grenville  Clark,  Stimson  was  convinced  that  there  would 
have  been  no  Selective  Service  Act  in  I94O.1 

Stimson's  own  principal  labors  in  support  of  the  measure 
were  two.  First,  with  General  Marshall  he  determined  the 
position  of  the  War  Department,  which  was  essentially  that 
any  workable  bill  would  be  satisfactory  to  the  Army.  As  for 
the  necessity  of  such  a  bill,  the  War  Department's  figures 
spoke  for  themselves.  The  Army  had  in  May  been  authorized 
to  expand  its  regular  strength  to  375,000.  The  rate  of  recruit- 
ing indicated  that  by  the  volunteer  system  even  this  small 
figure  could  be  achieved  only  very  slowly.  If  Congress  wanted 
an  army  large  enough  to  defend  the  country,  it  must  provide 
for  compulsory  service.  This  was  the  lesson  of  every  previous 
emergency  in  American  history.  Stimson  repeated  to  the 
House  Committee  on  Military  Affairs  convictions  which  he 
had  held  for  over  twenty-five  years.  Selective  Service  was  the 
only  fair,  efficient,  and  democratic  way  to  raise  an  army. 

His  second  task  was  that  of  insuring  active  Presidential 
support  of  the  bill.  Here  he  found  himself  engaged  in  a  form 
of  sport  which  had  become  familiar  in  the  seven  years  of  the 
New  Deal.  Franklin  Roosevelt  was  firmly  convinced  of  the 
need  for  selective  service,  and  in  the  end  his  support  was 
decisive  in  securing  passage  of  a  satisfactory  act,  but  his 
watchful  waiting,  on  this  and  many  other  later  issues,  was  as 
tantalizing  to  Stimson  as  it  was  to  many  other  men  whose 
policies  he  in  the  end  supported.  In  this  case,  however,  'he 
came  down  firmly  on  the  right  side  every  time  we  asked  him 
to/  and  at  least  once  his  statement  preceded  Stimson's  request. 
The  effect  each  time  was  immediate,  and  Stimson  learned  a 
lesson  about  the  power  of  Mr.  Roosevelt's  leadership  which 
he  did  not  forget. 

With  the  help  of  evident  public  approval  throughout  the 
country,  the  supporters  of  compulsory  training  were  able  to 

1  There  might  also  have  been  no  Stimson  as  Secretary  of  War  in  that  year;  it  was 
Clark's  fight  for  Selective  Service  that  led  him  to  take  the  initiative  which  resulted  in 
the  suggestion  of  Stimson's  name  to  Mr.  Roosevelt. 


defeat  all  efforts  at  delay  and  all  vitiating  amendments,  and 
on  September  16  the  President  signed  the  Selective  Service 
Act  of  1940.  In  retrospect  Stimson  saw  this  act  as  one  of  the 
two  or  three  most  important  accomplishments  of  the  American 
people  in  the  whole  period  before  the  outbreak  of  active  war. 
It  made  possible  a  program  of  training  which  fully  occupied 
the  Army's  resources  through  the  next  year;  the  invaluable 
months  before  the  shooting  began  were  thus  not  wasted.  And 
as  an  unprecedented  departure  from  American  peacetime 
traditions,  it  demonstrated  clearly  the  readiness  of  the  Amer- 
ican people  to  pay  the  cost  of  defense  in  terms  more  signifi- 
cant than  dollars. 

Together  with  the  Joint  Resolution  of  August  27,  1940, 
which  authorized  the  President  to  call  out  the  National 
Guard  and  the  Organized  Reserves,  the  Selective  Service  Act 
laid  the  necessary  legislative  foundation  for  a  new  army  of 
1,400,000  men.  In  view  of  the  pressure  under  which  the  Army 
was  forced  to  work,  its  preparations  for  housing  and  training 
these  men  seemed  excellent  to  Stimson,  and  he  said  so  firmly 
on  October  17  when  the  question  appeared  briefly  in  the  Pres- 
idential campaign. 

A  more  difficult  task  was  the  organization  of  the  Selective 
Service  System.  Here,  too,  the  Army  was  prepared.  The  re- 
sults of  fourteen  years  of  study  were  incorporated  in  the  De- 
partment's plans,  and  with  the  advice  of  Major  Lewis  B. 
Hershey,  Stimson  and  the  President  found  it  surprisingly  easy 
to  organize  the  great  machine  which  was  to  serve  so  well  for 
the  duration.  The  administration  of  the  draft,  from  the  begin- 
ning, was  a  triumph  of  decentralization;  throughout  the  war 
it  maintained  its  reputation  for  fairness,  and  this  reputation 
rested  principally  on  the  character  and  ability  of  the  thou- 
sands of  men  who  served  on  the  local  boards.  To  Stimson  this 
was  another  proof  of  the  competence  of  the  Army;  the  meth- 
ods of  1940  were  built  on  the  War  Department's  study  of  the 
magnificent  achievement  of  General  Crowder  in  1917.  Pres- 
ident Roosevelt  insisted  on  the  appointment  of  a  civilian  di- 
rector, and  after  some  delay  Clarence  Dykstra  was  selected, 
but  the  success  of  the  draft  was  not  the  work  of  any  one  man — 
it  was  the  natural  result  of  many  years  of  careful  thought  in 


the  War  Department.  It  was  a  deep  personal  satisfaction  to 
Stimson  to  watch  the  President  learning  that  his  fears  of  a 
militaristic  administration  of  the  draft  were  unfounded,  and 
the  appointment  of  General  Hershey  to  replace  Dykstra  when 
the  latter  resigned  in  the  middle  of  1941  seemed  to  him  a 
proper  recognition  of  the  trustworthiness  of  the  military. 

The  beginning  of  the  draft,  for  the  sixteen  million  regis- 
trants, was  the  drawing  of  numbers  on  October  29.  The  same 
occasion  marked  for  Stimson  the  ending  of  four  months  of 
arduous  argument  and  preparation.  "We  had  a  very  impres- 
sive ceremony.  .  .  .  The  President  first  made  an  admirable 
speech  on  the  purposes  and  methods  and  democratic  nature  of 
the  draft.  Then  I  was  blindfolded  and  drew  the  first  cap- 
sule. .  .  .  This  drawing  took  place,  as  will  be  noted,  before 
election,  although  everybody  was  hinting  around  a  little  while 
ago  that  it  would  not  be  done  until  after  election.  It  thus  was 
a  brave  decision  on  the  part  of  the  President  to  let  it  come 
now,  when  there  is  a  very  bitter  campaign  being  made  against 
it.  ...  In  my  opinion  he  showed  good  statesmanship  when  he 
accepted  the  issue  and  his  technique  in  bringing  it  on  in  this 
public  manner  and  the  solemn  nature  of  the  occasion  and  the 
character  of  the  speech  which  he  made  .  .  .  served  to  change 
the  event  of  the  draft  into  a  great  asset  in  his  favor."  (Diary, 
October  29,  1940) 

With  manpower  for  the  new  army  assured,  the  War  De- 
partment tackled  the  equally  important  problem  of  leader- 
ship. It  was  apparent  that  large  numbers  of  additional  officers 
would  be  required. 

Where  should  they  be  obtained?  Grenville  Clark,  and  many 
others  who  had  studied  the  problem,  strongly  urged  that  in 
addition  to  promotion  from  the  ranks  the  War  Department 
should  go  straight  to  the  civilian  world,  organizing  training 
camps  for  citizen  volunteers  on  the  lines  of  those  which  Stim- 
son himself  had  so  much  admired  in  1916-1917.  This  solution 
also  appealed  to  the  President,  who,  however,  left  the  final 
determination  to  the  War  Department. 

General  Marshall  took  a  different  view.  Given  a  Selective 
Service  System,  he  believed  that  for  the  first  time  in  its  history 


the  Army  would  now  be  in  a  position  to  draw  its  officers  from 
its  own  ranks.  With  a  large  pool  of  National  Guard  and  Re- 
serve officers  to  draw  on,  the  Army  had  no  immediate  need 
for  more  officers ;  its  problem  was  rather  to  insure  the  effective 
training  of  those  it  had.  In  March,  1941,  the  matter  came  to  a 

The  issue  here  was  a  broader  one  than  any  of  the  partici- 
pants then  realized,  and  in  retrospect  Stimson  believed  that 
the  solution  reached  was  a  better  one  than  any  of  them  antici- 
pated. After  much  discussion  it  was  agreed  that  there  should 
be  no  separate  "Plattsburg  camps";  the  Army  would  instead 
enlarge  its  already  projected  program  for  training  officers 
from  the  ranks.  As  a  concession  to  men  not  yet  subject  to  draft 
who  might  be  particularly  qualified  as  leaders,  it  would  offer 
a  special  arrangement  later  known  as  the  Volunteer  Officer 
Candidate  program,  but  even  this  concession  was  later  with- 
drawn. In  the  great  task  of  finding  junior  officers  the  Army 
thus  limited  itself  mainly  to  its  own  men,  and  from  this  deci- 
sion grew  the  Officer  Candidate  Schools.  This  was  the  fair 
and  democratic  way  to  form  an  officer  corps.  It  also  turned 
out  to  be  the  efficient  way. 

A  Secretary  of  War  does  not  see  much  of  lieutenants, 
however  hard  he  may  try,  and  Stimson  was  in  no  position  to 
offer  any  final  judgment  on  the  quality  of  the  junior  leaders 
thus  developed.  The  Army's  insistence  on  finding  its  officers 
among  its  enlisted  men  was  not  duplicated  during  the  war  by 
either  the  Navy  or  the  Air  Forces  (in  the  latter  case  for  what 
seemed  to  Stimson  sufficient  reasons),  and  Stimson  feared  that 
perhaps  the  Army  had  lost  many  fine  youngsters  who  were  not 
reluctant  to  take  the  short  cut  to  commissioned  responsibility 
offered  by  other  services.  On  the  other  hand,  the  principle 
established  by  the  Army  was  right,  and  the  record  of  the  Offi- 
cer Candidate  Schools  was  a  proud  one.  These  schools  were 
a  new  development  in  American  military  experience,  and 
Stimson  did  not  doubt  that  many  mistakes  were  made,  but  he 
felt  sure  that  the  Army  of  the  future  would  build  its  leader- 
ship on  the  principles  thus  boldly  and  successfully  followed 
throughout  Word  War  II. 

Although  the  Officer  Candidate  Schools  became  the  source 


of  most  of  the  Army's  new  officers,  there  were  of  course  many 
specialized  skills  for  which  the  War  Department  had  to  go 
directly  to  civil  life.  The  most  obvious  such  cases  were  doc- 
tors, dentists,  and  chaplains.  For  other  cases,  less  obvious, 
Stimson  on  October  14,  1940,  laid  down  his  policy  in  a  "mem- 
orandum of  suggestions.77  Commissions  direct  from  civil  life 
were  not  to  be  given  to  men  otherwise  liable  to  service  under 
the  draft;  "all  political  or  personal  considerations  should  be 
rigidly  excluded";  and  "commissions  should  only  be  given 
where  the  individual  has  special  qualifications  for  the  service 
he  is  expected  to  perform." 

At  first  Stimson  tried  to  enforce  this  ruling  by  requiring  his 
personal  approval  for  all  appointments  from  civil  life.  As  the 
Army  expanded,  such  personal  supervision  became  impos- 
sible, and  the  job  was  turned  over  to  a  board  of  officers  under 
General  Malin  Craig,  who  had  been  Marshall's  predecessor 
as  Chief  of  Staff.  General  Craig's  firm  but  fair-minded  appli- 
cation of  Stimson's  policy  was  a  great  protection  to  the  Army. 
War  generates  many  pressures,  but  perhaps  none  more  insist- 
ent than  that  of  the  enormous  number  of  men  who  are  con- 
vinced that  they  can  be  useful  only  as  commissioned  officers. 

This  difficulty  of  course  made  itself  felt  also  in  lower  eche- 
lons. Replying  to  one  eager  mother  whose  favorite  private 
soldier  had  not  yet  been  handed  his  marshal's  baton,  Stimson 
remarked  that  the  only  course  which  would  satisfy  everyone 
would  be  to  abolish  the  rank  of  private. 

Quite  as  important  as  the  procurement  of  capable  junior  offi- 
cers was  the  selection  of  their  seniors.  The  policy  pursued  in 
promotion  of  officers  was  the  work  of  General  Marshall. 
Stimson's  only  concern  was  with  promotions  to  general  offi- 
cer's rank,  and  even  here  the  framing  of  the  lists  was  a  job  for 
the  soldiers.  The  Secretary  was  in  complete  sympathy  with 
the  Chief  of  Staff's  insistence  on  selective  advancement  of  the 
ablest  men,  regardless  of  age,  and  after  careful  study  of  Mar- 
shall's first  list- with  his  old  friend  Frank  R.  McCoy,  "We 
both  decided  that  it  was  an  outstanding  departmental  paper 
and  that  the  recommendations  contained  in  it  were  very  ad- 
mirable and  clear.  Marshall  had  had  the  courage  and  breadth 
of  view  to  disregard  the  ordinary  official  records  of  officers 


in  certain  cases  where  it  was  important  to  do  so,  and  to  appoint 
several  men  whom  McCoy  and  I  knew  to  be  good  war  men 
and  yet  who  might  not  have  had  as  good  a  record  on  paper." 
(Diary,  September  21,  1940) 

Stimson  approved  the  list,  and  the  President  signed  it,  un- 
changed ;  this  became  the  almost  invariable  practice,  although 
on  a  later  list,  in  October,  Stimson  felt  it  necessary  to  reinforce 
Marshall's  recommendation  for  the  promotion  of  George  S. 
Patton  to  major  general,  having  heard  that  this  name  was 
doubtfully  viewed  in  the  White  House. 

The  obverse  of  promotion  was  the  unpleasant  task  of  weed- 
ing out  incompetents.  At  lower  echelons  this  work  was  slow 
in  development;  eventually  it  was  handled  by  reclassification 
boards.  Complaints  against  reclassification  from  influential 
quarters  forced  Stimson  in  1944  to  make  a  personal  investiga- 
tion of  the  process  of  reclassification ;  he  found  as  he  had  ex- 
pected that  the  rights  of  officers  subjected  to  this  process  were 
almost  too  carefully  safeguarded  and  flatly  refused  to  inter- 
vene. At  higher  levels  he  followed  the  same  policy,  pointing 
out  to  the  friends  of  officers  removed  from  high  positions  or 
retired  from  the  Army  that  any  interference  from  the  Secre- 
tary's office  would  be  prejudicial  to  good  order  and  discipline. 

This  firmness  was  particularly  necessary  in  the  case  of  sen- 
ior officers  of  the  National  Guard.  Stimson  had  himself  been 
a  Guardsman,  but  partly  for  that  reason  he  understood  how 
little  the  training  of  the  Guard  had  equipped  many  of  its  offi- 
cers for  modern  field  service,  and  he  therefore  fully  supported 
General  Marshall  in  the  fairly  drastic  reorganization  which 
was  required  in  making  effective  fighting  units  of  the  Guard 


The  number  of  men  in  the  United  States  Government  whose 
central  interest  was  preparation  for  war,  in  the  summer  of 
1940,  was  not  very  great.  Stimson  and  Judge  Patterson 
were  two  of  them,  and  in  the  uphill  battle  which  they 
fought  for  the  Army's  equipment  they  soon  learned  all  the 
good  reasons  why  this  or  that  part  of  their  program  must  be 


delayed.  The  basic  difficulty  was  a  simple  one — the  country 
as  a  whole  was  not  ready  to  make  any  serious  sacrifices  for 
national  defense;  nothing  that  was  done  in  production  before 
Pearl  Harbor  involved  the  same  degree  of  sacrifice  as  the  na- 
tion's decision  to  raise  an  army  by  selective  service,  but  each 
man  squealed  as  he  was  hurt  This  was  true  of  management 
and  of  labor,  and  it  was  true  of  many  branches  of  the  Govern- 
ment. The  tensions  developed  during  the  years  of  the  New 
Deal  were  not  the  perfect  background  for  the  labors  of  Dr. 
Win-the-War — especially  since  that  doctor  could  not  yet  be 
called  by  his  right  name.  The  President  himself  had  set  the 
tone  for  this  period  by  a  remark  that  no  one  need  be  "discom- 
boomerated"  by  the  crisis. 

The  one  thing  upon  which  the  whole  country  was  agreed 
was  that  the  services  must  have  enough  money.  At  no  time  in 
the  whole  period  of  the  war  emergency  did  Stimson  ever  have 
to  worry  about  funds;  the  appropriations  of  Congress  were 
always  prompt  and  generous.  The  pinch  came  in  getting 
money  turned  into  weapons.  Right  at  the  start,  Stimson  found 
his  temper  sorely  tried  by  six  weeks  of  delay  in  passing  a  tax 
law  under  which  contracts  could  be  speedily  signed.  The  issue 
was  a  simple  one.  The  existing  tax  laws  made  no  provision  for 
the  special  circumstances  of  defense  production,  in  which 
large  plants  must  be  built  which  would  have  almost  no  value 
after  the  emergency  had  ended.  No  businessman  wanted  to  be 
saddled  with  such  white  elephants,  and  it  was  generally 
agreed  that  the  law  must  be  changed  to  permit  contractors  to 
write  off  such  construction  expenses  within  a  five-year  period. 
The  administration  insisted,  however,  that  such  relief  must  be 
accompanied  by  a  stringent  excess-profits  tax.  To  all  this  Stim- 
son agreed,  in  principle.  He  was  not  eager  to  see  business  mak- 
ing unnatural  profits  out  of  national  defense.  At  the  same  time 
the  essential  thing  was  speed,  and  while  he  did  not  venture  to 
determine  who  was  right  in  the  mutual  recriminations  be- 
tween the  Treasury  and  Congress,  it  seemed  to  him  clear  that 
neither  side  was  sufficiently  concerned  with  getting  the  bill 
passed.  Businessmen  must  be  prevented  from  making  exces- 
sive profits,  but  they  were  not  going  to  sign  contracts  until 
they  had  a  bill  protecting  them  against  large  losses,  and  too 


many  men  in  Washington  refused  to  face  that  simple  fact. 
"The  whole  thing  is  a  great  clash  between  two  big  theories 
and  interests.  If  you  are  going  to  try  to  go  to  war,  or  to  prepare 
for  war,  in  a  capitalist  country,  you  have  got  to  let  business 
make  money  out  of  the  process  or  business  won't  work,  and 
there  are  a  great  many  people  in  Congress  who  think  that  they 
can  tax  business  out  of  all  proportion  and  still  have  business- 
men work  diligently  and  quickly.  That  is  not  human  nature." 
(Diary,  August  26,  1940) 

The  War  Department  had  its  troubles  with  more  than  one 
company  which  was  slow,  or  inefficient,  or  selfish,  and  Stim- 
son  himself  had  a  stiff  verbal  engagement  through  the  press 
with  certain  airplane  makers  who  seemed  to  think  the  expan- 
sion of  civil  airlines  more  important  than  the  growth  of  the 
Army  Air  Forces,  but  on  the  whole  he  was  not  inclined  to 
blame  businessmen  for  their  reluctance  to  enter  defense  work 
without  some  protection.  After  World  War  I  he  had  himself 
defended  companies  harried  by  the  Harding  administration 
for  having  done  in  wartime  what  the  Wilson  administration 
asked  them  to  do.  As  for  profits,  it  was  obvious  that  if  the  gov- 
ernment must  guarantee  against  loss,  it  must  also  prevent  ex- 
cessive gain,  and  in  the  machinery  for  contract  renegotiation 
as  it  finally  developed  Stimson  was  satisfied  that  in  general 
this  goal  was  achieved. 

A  striking  example  of  this  reluctance  of  businessmen  to 
enter  the  uncertain  field  of  defense  production  was  the  manu- 
facture of  powder.  In  the  summer  of  1940  powder  was  the 
most  critical  shortage  of  all,  but  Stimson  was  forced  to  make 
personal  pleas  to  such  companies  as  Du  Pont  before  they 
would  return  to  the  work  they  had  been  so  unfairly  damned 
for  doing  in  the  previous  war.  One  thing  was  absolutely  clear: 
whoever  started  America  toward  war  in  1940,  it  was  most  cer- 
tainly not  the  munitions  makers ;  they  went  about  their  work 
efficiently  when  called  upon,  but  they  did  not  push. 

The  most  difficult  problem  in  production,  during  Stimson's 
first  year  in  the  War  Department,  was  inside  the  Government, 
in  the  organization  of  an  effective  team  of  leaders.  The  War 
Department  itself  had  much  to  learn;  the  mixed  atmosphere 
of  the  nation  did  not  permit  the  application  of  its  carefully 


deliberated  plans  for  mobilization,  and  the  insistent  demand 
was  for  men  who  could  throw  away  the  book  and  get  results 
in  the  face  of  unexpected  handicaps  and  obstacles.  Patterson 
was  such  a  man,  and  so  was  Colonel  Brehon  Somervell,  who 
in  December  took  charge  of  the  great  task  of  camp  construc- 
tion. Stimson  was  further  greatly  assisted  by  Robert  Proctor, 
a  lawyer  from  Boston  whose  volunteer  services  expedited  the 
signing  of  airplane  contracts  in  the  summer  of  1940.  The  reg- 
ular officers  charged  with  procurement  were  diligent,  but  too 
few  of  them  were  men  of  drive  and  imagination.  Nothing  was 
to  be  gained  by  putting  unknown  hopefuls  in  their  places, 
however,  and  Stimson  and  Patterson  for  a  time  did  their  best 
with  what  they  had.  For  the  moment  the  Army  was  not  the 
critical  point  in  the  problem.  Even  unimaginative  officers  had 
more  demands  than  industry  could  fill.  The  real  confusion  in 
the  Government  was  in  the  great  field  of  industrial  mobiliza- 
tion. Who  was  to  do  the  job  that  had  been  done  under  Bernard 
Baruch  in  1918? 

Franklin  Roosevelt  experimented  with  solutions  to  this 
problem  for  nearly  four  years ;  his  first  effort  was  the  appoint- 
ment of  the  National  Defense  Advisory  Commission,  in  June, 
1940.  This  was  a  committee  of  seven.  In  Stimson's  view  it  was 
just  six  men  too  many,  but  in  William  S.  Knudsen  the  Presi- 
dent found  a  man  who  understood  production;  from  the  be- 
ginning Knudsen  was  "a  tower  of  strength"  in  the  practical 
matter  of  translating  a  military  demand  into  an  operating 
production  line. 

There  were  other  problems  involved  in  industrial  mobiliza- 
tion, however,  and  it  was  not  long  before  the  NDAC  began  to 
show  its  inadequacies.  Seven  advisers  could  not  make  deci- 
sions. What  was  needed  was  a  single  head,  as  Stimson,  Knox, 
Patterson,  and  Forrestal  agreed  in  a  long  conference  on  De- 
cember 17.  After  discussion  with  Morgenthau  and  Jesse  Jones, 
and  after  the  agreement  of  both  William  Green  and  Sidney 
Hillman  had  been  secured,  they  went  to  the  President  on  De- 
cember 1 8  to  suggest  that  Knudsen  be  made  the  one  responsi- 
ble director  of  war  production.  As  a  concession  to  the 
President's  fear  that  such  a  "czar"  might  trespass  on  the  legit- 
imate functions  of  the  War  and  Navy  Departments,  they 


further  suggested  that  Stimson  and  Knox  should  serve  as 
advisers  to  Knudsen.  From  this  recommendation  developed 
the  Office  of  Production  Management,  OPM,  to  which  the 
President  appointed  Knudsen  as  director,  Hillman  as  associ- 
ate director,  and  Stimson  and  Knox  as  members  of  the  board. 
The  attempt  to  get  a  single  head  had  failed,  but  the  new  ar- 
rangement was  certainly  an  improvement.  Stimson's  major 
contribution  to  its  work  was  his  personal  intervention  to  insure 
the  appointment  of  John  Lord  O'Brian  as  general  counsel. 
O'Brian  held  this  position  in  successive  reorganizations 
throughout  the  war,  and  it  would  be  difficult  to  overestimate 
the  value  of  his  service  to  his  country. 


However  urgent  the  work  of  raising  and  arming  her  own 
military  forces,  the  attention  of  America  in  1940  and  early 
1941  was  mainly  centered  on  Great  Britain.  In  Stimson's  office 
visitors  from  England  were  always  welcome,  and  he  followed 
with  anxious  care  the  course  of  the  air  and  sea  battle.  On  two 
matters  his  informants  all  agreed.  The  British  were  wholly 
determined  to  fight  to  the  end,  and  to  do  it  successfully  they 
needed  all  the  help  they  could  get.  It  was  the  policy  of  the 
American  Government  to  provide  this  help,  but  it  was  easier 
to  announce  such  a  policy  than  to  execute  it. 

The  main  difficulty,  of  course,  was  that  America  simply  did 
not  have  much  to  give ;  by  the  standards  that  were  to  become 
familiar  in  the  later  years  of  the  war,  she  had  nothing.  In  1940 
planes  were  counted  one  at  a  time,  and  even  the  very  few  on 
hand  were  not  battle-tested.  The  same  thing  was  true  of  all 
modern  weapons.  This  brutal  fact  was  too  painful  to  be  prop- 
erly accepted,  and  during  the  next  two  years  Stimson  had 
many  a  bitter  hour  with  Allied  leaders  who  could  not  believe 
that  the  American  larder  was  bare.  The  President  himself 
was  an  occasional  offender ;  in  his  eagerness  to  help  an  ally  he 
sometimes  gave  assurances  that  could  not  be  fulfilled.  It  was 
not  easy  for  anyone  to  possess  his  soul  in  patience  during 
the  long  months  that  separated  vast  programs  from  finished 


In  1940  the  only  weapons  available  in  the  United  States  in 
any  quantity  were  surplus  stocks  from  the  last  war.  Even  these 
were  not  readily  transferable,  but  in  the  emergency  just  after 
Dunkirk  the  President  and  General  Marshall  succeeded  in 
getting  to  the  British  a  very  substantial  number  of  infantry 
weapons ;  this  was  done  by  selling  them  to  the  United  States 
Steel  Export  Compa